Penne all’arrabbiata (angry penne) is a classic dish from the Roman cucina povera. A few ingredients, well chosen, make a dish of a incomparable taste. King in this recipe is the chilli pepper.
About this Recipe
By: Silvana Lanzetta
Penne all’ arrabbiata is a very well loved pasta dish around the world, especially by those who appreciate spicy food.
This simple dish is one of the cornerstones of the Roman cucina povera (the other being Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana, Pasta alla Gricia, and Spaghetti alla Carbonara.
Penne all’ arrabbiata is very quick to make: it takes longer to cook the pasta than to make the sauce! To save time, put your big pot of boiling water on before you get cracking with the sauce.
- 400 gr penne
- 400 gr canned tomatoes
- 80 gr of grated Pecorino Romano
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 or 2 dried chilli peppers
- a small bunch of parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsps of extravirgin olive oilo
- salt to taste
There are two traditional versions of the recipes, plus the the most popular one that is somehow the blending of the older recipes.
The first -and oldest- one is from Civitavecchia, a portal town 60km northwest of Rome. This version is the most commonly known, with just tomatoes, chilli, and parsley. What here is missing is the pecorino cheese.
The second is the gourmet version created by the Roman chef Giovanni Cotellesi in the 1930’s: it is a much richer version, with the addition of cooked ham, chilli, and basil instead of parsley.
The version today is mostly known, is the Civitavecchia sauce with the addition of pecorino Romano (which is, in my opinion, the most delicious cheese to add to your pasta). And this is the version I’m going to give you today.
If you would like to try the sauce created by Cotellesi, just add the diced ham after the garlic, and saute for a few minutes before adding the tomato sauce. Then sprinkle with chopped basil. Check the notes in the recipe below to see how to go for it.
Pasta with carbonara sauce is a very rich dish, quite high in fats. Make it every now and then as a delicious treat for you and your family!
- Proteins 26% 26%
- Carbs 27% 27%
- Fats 11% 11%
Step by Step Instructions
Make penne all’arrabbiata
To prepare your arrabbiata sauce, start by putting to boil a large casserole filled with water. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the instructions
For the best way to cook pasta, check HERE.
Meanwhile, crush the garlic cloves and some of the chilli ( I would start with half a chilli, and then topo it up afterwards if necessary). Add the oil in a large pan, and saute at low heat the garlic and the chilli for 2 minutes. Make sure that the garlic doesn’t take any colour, otherwise it turns bitter.
Add the canned tomatoes, raise the heat and bring to boil. Then lower the heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes. Salt to taste (bear in mind that the pecorino romano is a rather salty cheese, so you might want to go conservative when adding salt).
When the pasta is cooked, save 1 tablespoon (no more) of the cooking water, then drain the pasta properly. Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce, add the tablespoon of cooking water, and the grated pecorino romano. Saute at high heat for a minute. Remove from heat.
Stir in the chopped parley and serve with extra grated pecorino cheese and the remaining chilli on the side.
If you want to try the richer version with ham, you will need to add 100 gr of diced cooked ham it in step 2, together with the garlic and chilli. It’s hard to find the same Italian cooked ham outside Italy, but I find a decent substitute is cooked gammon. Follow the recipe as written from step 3. Stir in chopped basil instead of the parsley.
For the vegan readers who want to try this recipes, go full Civitavecchia’s version and remove the pecorino.