Differently to what the name suggests, this authentic Roman simple, quick, and spicy pasta dish is all you need to end your day a happy person.
What could I possibly say about Italian pasta that has not been said before?
OK, but let me repeat nonetheless: It’s utterly delicious and the most easy-to-make. In most cases you only need a handful of ingredients. And though homemade pasta seems to be a thing lately (and I am all for it too), you can totally make a fabulous plate of pasta using the store-bought stuff.
The same is true for the tomato sauce here. It’s easily prepared from scratch, using fresh tomatoes sautéed in garlic and chili peppers. Yet for the quick fix after a busy day, don’t be too worried to open a can of store-bought peeled tomatoes.
Either way, if you like spicy food, you will love this recipe.
Originating in the Roman cuisine, penne all’arrabbiata have first spread across the surrounding Lazio region before it became one of the classic pasta recipes that today is cherished all over Italy.
Literally translated to ‘angry penne’ the name apparently comes from the fact that when you eat the pasta, your face is likely to turn red from the spiciness of the food. Which would also happen when you are angry. There you go.
There is no specific rule as to how much chili is too much. It all depends on your own liking. Although I recommend starting with not too much and slowly taste your way to the right amount when making the arrabbiata sauce for the first time.
Of course, the authentic penne all’arrabbiata must be made with penne rigate pasta. In addition, the original recipe calls for Pecorino Romano. While it’s kinda similar to the perhaps better-known Parmigiano Reggiano, Romans will insist pecorino will better harmonize with the spicy tomato sauce.
And then, the wine …
When you make a plate of pasta, do like the Italians do and pair it with a nice glass of wine.
But what wine should you pair with a spicy plate of penne all’arrabbiata?
There are a couple of choices. A sharply flavoured dry white such as Pinot Grigio, Verdicchio, or Vermentino, or a bucolic red such as Chianti Classico, Primitivo, Valpolicella Ripasso or Zinfandel would all work well.
However, my firm favourite with a spicy penne all’arrabbiata still remains a luscious sparkling Lambrusco from the Emilia Romagna region. With its bubbles, fruit-forward character and residual sugar, it’s a perfect match with the spicy tomato sauce.
To learn more about Lambrusco, read my post Introducing Lambrusco, the sparkling red wine from Italy.
If you are looking for a quick and easy dinner idea after a busy day that will make everybody happy, penne all’arrabiata will be ready in just about 20 minutes.
Recipe: Authentic Penne all’Arrabiata
400 g penne rigate
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
1 dried chilli pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
300 g canned crushed tomatoes
100 g pecorino romano
parsley to taste
In a large saucepan, heat abundant generously salted water. Add the penne and cook according to instructions (usually 10 to 11 minutes).
In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Fry the shallot until translucent, then add cloves, chili, tomato paste and dried tomatoes. Bring to a light boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 4 to 5 minutes.
Using a pasta claw, transfer the cooked penne directly to the sauce. Stir to combine, season with salt and pepper.
Serve topped with freshly grated pecorino and parsley.