When I did a riff on a combination of Sugo alla Napoletana and Penne all’Arrabbiata to meet Richard’s Chilehead Challenge, I realised that I had not blogged about Penne all’Arrabbiata before. This is a classic dish from Lazio, the region around Rome, of pasta with a spicy tomato sauce. “Arrabbiata” means angry, referring to the spiciness of the sauce. Like all Italian classics, it is a simple dish with a limited number of ingredients, but a lot of flavor. It doesn’t take more time to prepare this than it takes to boil the pasta.
Chile peppers are called peperoncini in Italian, which literally means “small peppers”. Peperoni are bell peppers. When not specified otherwise, a peperoncino in Italian cooking means a dried small red chile pepper. The seeds are often removed because you don’t want seeds in the sauce, not because that reduces the heat (because it doesn’t — the heat is in the filaments that hold the seeds). Since this dish is from Lazio, the proper cheese to serve over this is pecorino romano, the sheep’s cheese of the region, rather than parmigiano reggiano.
150 grams (.33 lb) penne pasta
1 peperoncino (dried small red chile pepper), or more if you like it very hot, seeded and minced
1 can (400 grams/14 oz) peeled tomatoes, or fresh peeled and seeded tomatoes when they are in season
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and salt and cook al dente according to package instructions.
This pairs well with an Italian rosé from sangiovese and/or montepulciano grapes. The tomato sauce goes well with reds with good acidity, but the spiciness of the peperoncino works better with rosé rather than a tannic red.