Arrabbiata is one of the simplest and most delicious Roman pasta recipes. The secret to the perfect Arrabbiata is the balance between the fresh taste of tomatoes and parsley and the spiciness of chili peppers.
The Arrabbiata sauce is a traditional recipe from Roman cuisine that became famous worldwide thanks to its simplicity and tastiness. Like the Spaghetti Aglio e Olio and the Puttanesca Sauce, the Penne all’Arrabbiata is an Italian classic to prepare at the last minute with common Italian ingredients: just the time to bring the water to boil and cook the pasta is basically enough!
The term Arrabbiata, that means “Angry”, derives from the spiciness of the sauce, and it has been so ingrained into Italian culture that it’s even mentioned in several classic movies, for instance “Roma” by Federico Fellini and “La Grande Abbuffata” by Marco Ferreri.
The legend tells the Arrabbiata sauce was born in Rome in the 1950’s. Some people think the Arrabbiata derives from Amatriciana and requires Pecorino, but most chefs prefer to prepare the traditional Arrabbiata without any cheese, to respect the freshness of the tomatoes and parsley.
Here some tips and suggestions to prepare Penne all’Arrabbiata to perfection:
You have three choices: fresh tomatoes, tomato puree, or whole canned tomatoes. Personally, particularly living abroad, my choice is often San Marzano canned tomatoes to obtain an authentic Italian taste.
Incise the tomatoes skin, then boil them into salted water, and discard skin and seeds eventually. For the complete process, click here.
Use a very good quality tomatoes puree or try my homemade recipe.
SAN MARZANO CANNED TOMATOES
Raise the tomatoes from their liquid, then chop them roughly and pour in a bowl along with a pinch of salt.
The best herbs to use are absolutely fresh parsley – finely chopped and added at the last minute.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
Here the question is Dried or Fresh? The tradition wants fresh red chili peppers: they give the right sweet and spicy taste. If fresh chili peppers are not available, use dried peppers along with a pinch of sweet paprika. The amount is personal: just how much you can take!
As mentioned above, cheese is absent from the traditional Arrabbiata, but some prefer topping the dish with a sprinkle of Pecorino at serving.
The only traditional shape of pasta for Arrabbiata is Penne, but the sauce actually pairs perfectly with other short pastas or even spaghetti.
The Penne all’Arrabbiata is also an excellent pasta salad serving at room temperature and tossed with a splash of extra-virgin olive: delicious!
In my research, I found an interesting Arrabbiata recipe by Ada Boni one of the most famous Italian food writer and influencer of the early 20th Century. Her Penne all’Arrabbiata recipe, published for the first time in 1929 on the cookbook “Il Talismano della Felicità”, is very different from what is nowadays considered traditional.
The Ada Boni Arrabbiata Sauce is made with ingredients far from the tradition, like onions, Diced Prosciutto, and plenty of Pecorino Romano. I tried the Ada Boni recipe, and in my opinion, it is delicious and interesting, but very different from what usually an Italian calls Arrabbiata.Print
Arrabbiata Pasta Sauce
The secret the the perfect Arrabbiata is the balance between the fresh taste of tomatoes and parsley and the spiciness of chili peppers.
- Author: Filippo Trapella
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- 14 oz 400 g Pasta (best if Penne)
- 1.5 lb 700 g whole canned San Marzano tomatoes
- to taste red hot chili peppers (as much as you can tolerate)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley (minced)
- 4.5 tbsp cooking salt
- to taste table salt
- CHOPPED TOMATOES
- Raise the tomatoes from their liquid, then chop them roughly and pour in a bowl along with a pinch of salt.
- GARLIC AND CHILI PEPPERS SOFFRITTO
- First of all, peel and crush the garlic, then cut the Chili Peppers into halves, discard the seeds and mince the peppers pulp.
- After that, sautè the garlic in a pan along with 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil until pale golden. Now, add the Chili peppers, and saute one minute more, then add the tomatoes and cook 10 minutes more over medium heat stirring as needed. Add another 2 tbsp of extra -virgin olive oil and salt to taste.
- COOKING PASTA
- Bring to boil 5 qt of water, then salt with 4.5 tbsp of cooking salt. Now cook the pasta and raise “al dente”. After that, toss the pasta with the Arrabbiata sauce and sautè over high heat a few minutes stirring continuously. If needed, add a few tbsp of cooking water.
- SERVING PENNE ALL’ARRABBIATA
- Far from the heat, toss the Arrabbiata pasta with fresh parsley, minced, and serve. Besides the variation with tomato puree, the chopped tomatoes Arrabbiata is also perfect to make a delicious pasta salad!
Born and raised in Bologna, Italy (hometown of lasagna and tortellini!), I grew up under the table of my grandmother helping her making fresh pasta for our Sunday feasts with the family. My passion for food stems from my curiosity, which has led me to travel around almost all continents (I still miss Oceania, but I hope to fill that gap soon!). During my trips I discovered the power of food. In my blog philosokitchen.com I write my recipes and my experiences around the world.