icon Penne all'Arrabbiata (Angry Penne)
Arrabbiata is a spicy red sauce of garlic, tomatoes and red chile peppers cooked in olive oil. The dish is usually served with penne rigate, small-ridged tubes cut diagonally at the ends, garnished with chopped fresh parsley and grated Pecorino cheese sprinkled on top.

All'arrabbiata means "angry style", because it is supposed to be spicy. A word about chile peppers is necessary, because "hot" means different things to different people. Red chile peppers found in Europe are not really hot compared to red chile peppers found in the Caribbean or Southeast Asia. Living in New Orleans and working in Indonesia, we like to think of "hot" as "pleasantly spicy, just reminiscent of the presence of chile peppers in the recipe." For this amount of pasta and tomatoes, 3-4 red Cayenne peppers are just enough to fulfill our definition of "pleasantly spicy". But, if your standard of "hot" is based on something like Hungarian yellow peppers, which are mild to moderately hot (0–500 Scoville units), use half of one Cayenne pepper. On the other hand, if more heat is desided, Southeast Asian Bird's eye chile or Mexican Habanero can definitely deliver all the firepower desired.

Arrabbiata makes a great late-night snack with friends or a suitable hangover remedy, because it is quick and easy to make, yet guarranteed to please everyone.


  • 1 lb (450 g) of penne pasta
  • 1 lb (450 g) very ripe fresh tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3-4 red chile peppers (or more), finely chopped, including seeds
  • Parsley
  • 6 fresh basil leaves (optional, many chefs in Italy do not use basil in Arrabbiata sauce)
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • Salt, to taste


  1. In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the chopped garlic and chile for a few seconds. When the garlic starts to brown pour in the tomatoes and season with salt. (If using basil, add half of it at this point.) Cook for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Using a fork, mash the tomatoes. Continue to cook until mixture is reduced to a paste. Turn heat off.
  3. (If using basil, add the resto of it, breaking the leaves by hand.) Add the grated pecorino and stir.
  4. Boil the penne al dente and drain. Add penne into the pan and whisk with the sauce over medium heat for a minute.
  5. Arrange on individual plates and garnish with a small amount of pecorino and chopped parsley.
  6. YIELD: Serves 4.

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Last updated: October 12, 2010