This spicy Italian Penne Arrabbiata is homemade in 20 minutes! It makes a great vegetarian dish, served with fresh parmesan, basil and parsley. 

We spent two weeks exploring Rome, Italy and Paris, France and I came home itching to make my own French and Italian dishes.  Like French Onion SoupCroque Monsieur, Shrimp Scampi, and Chicken Piccata!

A white plate full of Italian penne arrabbiata garnished with fresh parmesan cheese.

I first fell in love with Penne Arrabbiata when our family visited Italy and it was instantly one of my favorite dishes. It’s easy to win my heart when the dish is composed of pasta and a spicy tomato sauce. YUM.

Lauren Allen and family in front of the Coloseum in Italy.

Arrabbiata (or arrabiata) literally means “angry” in Italian, because the sauce in this dish is supposed to be “angry” spicy.  The Italian name for it is sugo all’arrabbiata and I was surprised to find that Americans often spell it wrong.  It’s supposed to be spelled with two b’s — arrabbiata, but it seems that most people are spelling it incorrectly with just one “b” — arrabiata.

Luckily, it’s delicious even spelled wrong!  And if you are worried about the heat, you can adapt the crushed red pepper measurements according to your tolerance for spice. Serve it with a green beans and warm crusty bread.

Arrabbiata Sauce (sugo all’arrabbiata):

This angry (spicy) Italian sauce is simple and elegant.  I love the fresh flavors mixed in with it–the fresh parsley, basil and parmesan. Those three fresh ingredients are a must for this dish! Oh, and don’t forget to use a fresh parmesan, NOT the pre-shredded stuff, please!

The ingredients needed to make Penne Arrabbiata.

How to make penne arrabbiata:

1. Cook pasta: penne or other desired pasta. Drain and set aside.

2. Make the arrabbiata sauce.  Add oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper to a skillet over medium heat and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the whole tomatoes, tomato paste, and simmer for 10 minutes before removing from heat and adding the fresh basil.

Two process photos for making the tomato sauce for penne arrabiatta.

3. Add pasta and parmesan. Toss and enjoy.

Penne pasta tossed in arrabbiata sauce in a skillet.

Arrabbiata Variations:

  • Arrabbiata spaghetti: substitute spaghetti noodles.
  • Add meat: ground beef, chicken, shrimp, chorizo, sausage, meatballs
  • Add vegetables: grill desired vegetables (zucchini, pepper, onions, etc) in step 2, before adding tomatoes.

To Freeze:

Make the arrabbiata sauce and allow it to cool completely.  Store it in a freezer safe container for 2-3 months.  Reheat in a sauce pan on low heat.  Make noodles fresh for serving.

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Recipe

A white plate full of Italian penne arrabbiata.
Prep 5 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 20 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes , depending on how spicy you want it
  • 1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (or 1 ½ cups fresh chopped tomatoes)
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 6 fresh basil leaves , chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (or pecorino cheese), for topping
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped), for topping

Instructions
 

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water, according to package instructions, until tender. 
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring for 30 seconds. 
  • Add tomatoes, crushing them roughly with the back of a wooden spoon, and tomato paste. 
  • Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and add fresh chopped basil. 
  • When pasta is cooked, drain the water and add it to the sauce. Toss well. Taste and add more red pepper flakes or salt and pepper, if needed. 
  • Serve immediately topped with a generous portion of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley.

Notes

Variations:
  • Arrabbiata spaghetti: substitute spaghetti noodles.
  • Add meat: ground beef, chicken, shrimp, chorizo, sausage, meatballs
  • Add vegetables: grill desired vegetables (zucchini, pepper, onions, etc) in step 2, before adding tomatoes.
To Freeze: Make the arrabbiata sauce and allow it to cool completely.  Store it in a freezer safe container for 2-3 months.  Reheat in a sauce pan on low heat.  Make noodles fresh for serving.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 488kcalCarbohydrates: 76gProtein: 17gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 456mgPotassium: 617mgFiber: 5gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 840IUVitamin C: 22.4mgCalcium: 199mgIron: 3.4mg

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I first shared this recipe October 2016. Updated March 2020 with process photos.

Have you tried this recipe?!

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

We LOVE this spicy Italian pasta that only takes 20 minutes to make! Penne Arrabbiata in a spicy tomato based sauce with fresh parmesan, basil and parsley.| Tastes Better From Scratch

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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  1. This is similar to your marinara recipe, but substituting a little spice for a little sweet. I love that marinara, and this recipe seems like a nice variation. Looking forward to trying it.

  2. So far, none of the online Italian-language recipes I’ve found include cheese. If they did, at least some would be added in the phase of incorporating the sauce with the pasta. Italians are funny about traditions of what gets cheese and what doesn’t; there’s nothing about Arrabiata that as far as I know would cross the cheese boundary (like, there’s no fish in it), so I don’t know why they don’t add cheese, but as far as I can tell they don’t. Curiously, for the not-very-different Amatriciana, they do add cheese.

    Oh, also, the Italian recipes seem to *always* involve parsley and *never* basil, which to me seems weird and I use basil because it’s tastier and I tend to have a lot of it from the garden (and not parsley).

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