How to Make an Arrabbiata Sauce

This spicy and delicious sauce can be made in a few bare minutes, making it a classic heavy rotation recipe for us here at Casual Kitchen. An arrabbiata sauce (often mistakenly spelled arrabiata) can be served with practically any kind of pasta, although it goes particularly well with penne to make the classic Italian dish penne all'arrabbiata.

The word arrabbiata means "angry" (or even better, "enraged") in English. But that's about the opposite of how you'll feel after you make this preposterously easy, yet distinctive, sauce.
Arrabbiata Sauce
(modified from 365 Ways to Cook Pasta*)

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoons crushed dried (hot) red pepper (note: if you want a milder sauce with just a hint of heat, use 1 teaspoon. For a more meaningfully spicy sauce, go with 2 teaspoons)

1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (see modifications below)
Fresh parsley for garnish
Salt to taste (optional)

1) Heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper. Saute, stirring until garlic turns golden.

2) Put the whole tomatoes into a food processor or a blender and pulse briefly until smooth. Add to the garlic, hot pepper and oil mixture.

3) Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes. Serve over the pasta of your choice.

Makes enough sauce for approximately 4-5 servings. Can be easily doubled or tripled.
This is the type of simple elegant sauce that can cause Italian food purists to wax rhapsodic. Although Casual Kitchen is perhaps more likely to rhapsodize over Chocolate Mousse or food-wonk concepts like applying the 80/20 Principle to cooking, we will happily admit that there is truly something arresting about a simple, delicious sauce like this.

All the better that it's healthy, inexpensive and--best of all--ridiculously easy to make.

And if you really want to wow your audience, you can take this sauce up to heavenly heights by using fresh (preferably garden- or locally-grown) tomatoes, preferably pressed through a strainer or a food mill (this strips out the tomato seeds, which can offend the sensibilities of many Italian sauce purists).

The last time I made this dish was in a quadruple batch for a 20-person family reunion dinner. Obviously for a group that big, one has to go for expedience, and straining fresh tomatoes is out of the question. But this sauce, even when made with canned tomatoes, still tastes divine. And best of all, because this sauce scales well and tastes even better the next day, it's simply perfect for dinner parties. Enjoy!

Related Posts:
Pasta Puttanesca
Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup
The Dinner Party: 10 Tips to Make Cooking for Company Fun and Easy
How to Apply the 80/20 Rule to Cooking


sixoryx said...

I have been looking EVERYWERE for a recipe for arrabiatta sauce, but all I ever find are ridiculously simple sounding recipes so I never even try. But I trust you, so Im going to try this one ASAP. Thanks so much!

Daniel said...

Hi Sixoryx,

You are welcome! It's funny, I felt the same way back when I was looking around for arrabbiata sauce recipes. They seemed too easy to be true.

It turns out that this sauce actually ISN'T too easy to be true. Sometimes there really is a free lunch. :)

Thanks for reading!

Hedy Leibowitz Johnston said...

this sounds really good! Definately will be trying. Have you ever tried a can of fire-roasted diced or crushed tomatoes? also makes a wonderful sauce.

Daniel said...

Hi Hedy:
Thanks for your comment. And yes, let me know how you like the sauce. And a good call on the fire-roasted tomatoes.

Thank you for reading!


Brittany said...

Yum! This was great. Is that cookbook worth buying?

Daniel said...

Hi Brittany, you're talking about 365 Ways to Cook Pasta, yes? I consider it an excellent cookbook, even if you pay full retail. The paperback gives you an absolute ton of recipes for just $4-5.


Paige V said...

I tried this ( recipe, and it turned out too watery & chunky, without enough flavor. I'm going to try straining the tomatoes and generally mooshing things up a lot more next time, but have you got any other advice for a newbie? :p

(assuming you ever look at this page again, that is. Thanks either way!)

Daniel said...

Hi Paige! I moderate all of my comments, so don't worry. But I'd suggest trying my recipe instead and not being stingy on the hot pepper flakes. Good luck and let me know how it comes out.


Reena said...

Hi Daniel! This is such a wonderful, easy recipe! I had been searching for a good one that tastes like the one Mario Batali sells in the jars, and came across your recipe. It tastes just like it and is much cheaper than buying it at the store. Thank you!

Daniel said...

Reena, thanks for taking time to share your feedback. Glad you loved it!


Debra Riddle said...

Hi Daniel,
I purchased a beautiful bottle of olive oil, with garlic, and red peppers, and the label says roasted garlic arrabiata. How much should I use of this to make a pasta sauce? Should I still add garlic and other spices? Also, can I use this olive oil to saute various veggies such as zucchini? That's how I had this initially at a restaurant. They served it to dip the bread in. Thank you.

Daniel said...

Hi Debra,
I wouldn't confuse what's in your bottle with the recipe I've got in this post. It sounds like what you've got is a flavored and possibly spicy olive oil for dipping bread.

This post is a pasta sauce recipe. If you're looking to make this recipe for arrabbiata sauce, don't use your flavored olive oil in it as an ingredient--just use regular olive oil.

I hope that helps!