Penne all’Arrabbiata

Recipe 10 minPreparation Time 30 minCooking Time
Penne all’Arrabbiata

Penne all’Arrabbiata

10 minPreparation Time 30 min Cooking Time

About this Recipe

This is the dish that taught me to cook. I had it in Rome, and immediately set to reverse-engineering it in my home kitchen. I haven’t looked back since then. Quintessentially Italian, penne all’arrabbiata is made from basically five ingredients, each as good as can be. When it’s done properly, the result becomes so much greater than the sum of its parts: a perfect plate of pasta, especially if you like a little heat. The parsley is essential. Besides the pop of bright green against the red sauce, parsley’s brightness bridges the gap between the tomatoes’ acidity and the hot pepper’s intensity.

The Benefits

Tomato sauce is so familiar that sometimes we forget what nutritional superstars tomatoes really are: full of antioxidants, particularly lycopene. Add a boost from parsley’s vitamins & minerals, plus the high protein content of durum wheat, and you have a satisfying and healthy meal.  


Serves 4
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 dried hot red chile (such as chile de arbol)
  • 1 (14.5 oz / 400 g) can whole peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1 small handful (about 1/4 cup / 4 g) flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 1 (1 lb / 450 g) bag penne rigate (ridged; penne lisce, the smooth ones, don’t hold the sauce as well)
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
  • Salt to taste


  1. Step 1
    Put a large pot of salted water on high heat. Thinly slice the garlic and hot pepper and set aside. Break the tomatoes up by squeezing them with your hand. You want chunks, not a smooth purée. Set the tomatoes aside. Chop the parsley coarsely and set aside.
  2. Step 2
    When the water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and stir it a couple of times to keep any penne from sticking together.
  3. Step 3
    Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the garlic and red pepper. Using a wooden spoon, stir to coat them in oil, and as soon as the garlic starts to take on a bit of color, about 1 minute, add the tomatoes to the pan and stir thoroughly to combine everything. If you let the garlic fry for too long, it will turn brown and bitter and the sauce won’t taste bright. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, and let it simmer low while you wait for the pasta.
  4. Step 4
    When the penne are just shy of al dente, scoop the pasta from the water with a spider or strainer, drain excess water into the pot, then add the penne to the saucepan and stir well. The pasta will finish cooking in the sauce, so taste for seasoning one last time, toss in the parsley, and stir frequently to bring it home. If you like it saucy, add a small ladle of the pasta cooking water at this stage. It’ll add volume, and the starch dissolved in the water will also thicken the liquid. Are the penne perfect? Good. Serve and eat them immediately.

Substitutions: Any type of dried pasta you like, short or long. Try Penne alla Puttanesca if you have capers and olives on hand or Puttanesca Bianca if you don’t have tomatoes

Level Up: Make cavatelli or orecchiette from scratch instead of using dried penne

Try it with: Cicoria Ripassata, Carciofi alla Romana, Fennel & Orange Salad 

Zero Waste: Add parsley stems to stock, blend with other herbs for pesto or green sauce