Penne all’Arrabbiata is a classic Roman dish that is known the world over. Heck, even Darth Vader had it is Eddie Izzard’s space canteen and it featured in Ferreri’s La Grande Bouffe. So it can’t be all that bad now, can it? There are many variations of Penne all’Arrabbiata out there. However, the base of garlic, chili, and parsley are the same for all.
A little history (and personal anecdotes)
The origins of the dish, like so many others, are a little unclear. It is believed to have originated around the end of the 19th century in the Lazio region of Italy. What is known though is that the dish gets its name from the the chilies. The heat colours your cheeks red and make you look ‘angry’.
Many sources suggest that its origins are linked to Pasta all’Amatriciana without the Pecorino or Guanchale. On a recent trip to Rome, I was told off by my mother-in-law for grating Pecorino Romano over my arrabbiata.
“No! no!” I thought I had committed a sin like making Pesto Genovese in a food processor. “You don’t put cheese on an arrabbiata.” I didn’t argue back (wise beyond my years, I know). But secretly I still grate a little Pecorino Romano over my arrabbiata to give it a little punch.
When I was a student, Penne all’Arrabbiata was one of my life-saver meals. Whether it was to save time between study sessions or to impress friends with my cooking prowess. It is incredibly quick to put together, yet it brings the full flavour of an Italian kitchen. You too can bring Rome right to your small student den in central Scotland.
Penne all’Arrabbiata in a hurry?
If time is an issue and you don’t have enough of it to boil, peel, and deseed your tomatoes, you can use a tin of peeled tomatoes instead. This will give a little more body to your dish and less ‘freshness’. You will want to cut the amount of passata in half. Many people go on about getting the most expensive tins of tomato hand-delivered to you by Italian unicorns. Unless you buy the absolute cheapest, you won’t know a difference. So your standard tin of peeled tomatoes will do just as good!.
- 200 g Penne rigate
- 4 Tomatoes
- 150 g Passata
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 3 dried Chilies
- 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 bunch fresh Parsley
- 1 Tbsp Extra virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to season
- Pecorino Romano to grate optional
- Peel and deseed the tomatoes (see the video on how to do this)
- Once peeled and deseeded, chop tomatoes into rough cubes
- Finely slice the garlic. Deseed and slice the chilies. Finely chop the parsley.
- Add the olive oil to a hot pan. When the oil is hot, add the chili and garlic. Cook for a minute or until the garlic starts to change colour.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, stirring well.
- Add the passata and sugar over medium heat and stir well.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce the heat to low heat and let the sauce simmer for at least 8-10 minutes, which the pasta cooks.
- When the pasta is cooked al dente, combine it with the tomato sauce and parsley in a bowl and serve with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese.