Or, in English, Pasta in a Spicy Tomato Sauce!  The original version of this recipe came from one of those cooking-pasta-for-dummies type cookbooks, not that I’m mocking it because it elevated my old student cheapy staple of “bacon and tomato pasta” into this, which is just as easy but a wee bit more sophisticated (especially if you go with pancetta) and a lot more tasty.

I also remember the book saying that this dish’s name literally means “angry” pasta because of it’s spicy heat.  I promise that “angry” will be the last thing you feel after eating this though 🙂  Despite the fairly economical ingredients, it’s a really tasty little dish.  It’s also extremely generous with the olive oil and quite rich as a result.

One last thing, I sincerely believe that lashings and lashings of parmesan make this dish, so don’t be afraid to grate more than what the recipe says – I usually grate about double!

Pasta All'Arrabbiata
Serves 2
A tangy tomato pasta with lovely kick of spice, and rich with bacon and good olive oil.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
45 min
You'll need
  1. 250g / 1/2 lb dried penne or fusilli
  2. 50ml / 4tbsp olive oil
  3. Slosh of balsamic vinegar
  4. 1 small red onion, finely diced
  5. 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 packet of pancetta/streaky bacon, cut into thin strips
  7. 1 can chopped tomatoes
  8. 1/8 tsp crushed chillies (or more if you like the spicy)
  9. salt for seasoning
  10. 6 medium-sized fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  11. 2 tbsp freshly grated pecorino romano/parmessan
fifi says
  1. If you're planning to be sociable after eating this then 1 clove is probably enough. And if you don't have a handy herb garden or even herb box to pick your basil from, dried basil or frozen will do just fine. If you don't have any basil at all, you won't miss it overly. Honest.
  1. Finely dice your onion, mince your garlic and cut your pancetta/streaky bacon into thin strips.
  1. Put all but 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the onion and garlic in the pan over a medium high heat, and cook until the onion starts looking transparent.
  2. Then add the pancetta/bacon strips and cook until they are well browned but not crisp.
  3. Next, add the tinned tomatoes, the crushed chillies, a little salt (the pancetta/bacon is already salty so seriously, just a little salt for seasoning will do) and a slosh of balsamic vinegar just to take off that tinny edge that canned tomatoes often have (fifi's top tip... if you don't have any balsamic vinegar handy, a generous pinch of sugar will also work).
  4. Turn the heat right up until the sauce starts bubbling away and then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 20 minutes without a lid.
  5. Once the 20 minutes is up, taste and season as needed, and add more chillies if the sauce isn’t quite “angry” enough for you. Leave it to simmer away while you cook the pasta, so another 10-20 minutes depending on how much puttering around you do while getting the pasta ready.
  6. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, salt generously and add a slug of oil, then tip in your pasta and give it a stir.
  7. Cook per the packet instructions until the pasta is al dente, then drain before tossing the pasta into the tomato sauce in its pan.
  8. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the cheese (I save a little to sprinkle over the top just before serving) and stir everything together. Serve asap. Simples!
Adapted from a "How to Cook Pasta" book found in my student days.
Adapted from a "How to Cook Pasta" book found in my student days.
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