PASTA ALL’ARRABBIATA…translated it means ANGRY MACARONI. A descriptive term referring to the spicy heat in the dish from the PEPERONCINO, or dried crushed red chiles that are used all over the world including many regions of Italy. The dish is said to have originated in Rome and often it’s catalogued in La Cucina Romana (Roman cuisine) but Southern Italy has so many instances of chile-infused oil , or lard based , or tomato based sauces for pasta that it’s really a tough call. What is generally thought of as the right pasta to serve with Arrabbiata sauce is PENNE, or PENNETTA. Perfect when some of the tomato and chile flecks get caught inside of the penne. I also love it with spaghetti…as illustrated in this ridiculous poor quality grainy Selfie.. Don’t be bullied. Penne is the most popular pasta used for a reason, it’s just a great match. But Spaghetti and any other pasta you like works too. Shh..just don’t say that in Italy. LOL. In the town of Marigliano outside of Naples in Campania the beginning of July is given over to a Sagra, or a Celebration in honor of PENNETTA ALL’ARRABBIATA. Imagine? A feast celebrating a dish of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, hot peppers and penne? This year’s announcement for the Sagra. Music, Drink and Pennetta All’Arabbiata. I think I like the sound of this. The sauce for Arrabbiata, like SO many of Italy’s pasta sauces is a simple affair. Olive Oil, Chiles, either Fresh or dried, garlic (some use onion), Italian Tomatoes, basil or not..Salt, and Penne. Really. That’s it. From what my amateur research has gathered, recipes calling themselves “true” Roman recipes all use fresh chopped chiles. Southern Italian recipes and Italianamerican recipes use Peperoncino, the same pepper, but dried. While they may be the same vegetable they do have different tastes. One imparts a fragrant fresh taste with it’s heat and the other gives a deep earthy flavor and heat. One day I will try this dish with fresh chiles, for now I use the dried. While it’s a very quick dish to make the best way to get maximum chile flavor and heat is to slowly “fry” it in the Olive Oil rather than add it to the simmering sauce or only when ready to eat. For dinner for 4-5 here’s how I do it.
TIME: 1 hour or less SERVES: 4-5
1/2 cup good quality Olive Oil or Extra Virgin, preferably Italian
1 TBS. PEPERONCINO (crushed dried red hot pepper flakes), plus more for serving
2 sliced cloves of Garlic, or 1 small onion finely diced
2 28 oz cans SAN MARZANO DOP TOMATOES (or Italian Plums) crushed with your hands
1 pound Penne (I use imported ITalian Pasta )
4 Basil leaves
In a large pan or heavy pot heat the olive oil to medium. Add the peperoncino and let this sizzle and pop on medium heat for a good 4 minutes. This releases the oils in the dried peppers and helps to carry all of it’s flavor through the sauce. Add 1/2 tsp of Kosher Salt. Add the garlic and (tricky here) saute’ until you just bring the slices to where they begin to get golden color than add the Tomatoes. Blend well and bring to a boil, then back down to a simmer. Allow the sauce to thicken, this will take some time, maybe 1/2 hour. Then taste for seasoning. If the sauce is thick enough (not watery) add the basil leaves and stir. If it needs more time, keep it on low simmer until you get a thicker sauce. Arrabbiata’s beauty is that it’s not “supposed” to be scorching…unless you want it to be. At this point you can add more peperoncino to taste. I find when feeding the family, less is more. I’ll add more on my dish when I sit down anyway to get it to my heat threshold. While the sauce is cooking , during the last 10 minutes, make a pound of Penne or Spaghettti till just al dente. Drain and add to the sauce and let it cook in the sauce for only 3 minutes. Tear in the Basil leaves…mix, taste for seasoning, then serve.
Dress the pasta with some Grated Pecorino Romano, a drizzle of Olive Oil, and more Peperoncino. GET ANGRY!!! ARRABBIATA!!!!! A grating of Pecorino or Parmigiano if you like! I like.
Here’s a variation…PASTA ALL’ARRABIATA con SPINACI SALTATI. Saute’ some fresh spinach with garlic and olive oil. Serve on top of the Sauced Pasta. Then mix it all in after you’ve taken a nice pic for Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook…ok Twitter and Pinterest too. Here’s a tip regarding Italian tomato sauces from South to North…only a handful are more complex requiring a sizable list of ingredients. The vast majority are but a handful of ingredients. What makes people NOT angry with this Arrabbiata is that you control your anger..an anger management of sorts LOL. The amount of peperoncino heat is up to you but it needs to be more than just a pinch since it’s not just Sugo di Pomodoro or Marinara, but a wake up call for the taste buds..feel the burn!!! Happy Cooking!!