At least once a week, especially on those nights that time is limited, we enjoy pasta as a main course. Of course, we have our favorites, but once in a while, I like to try something new. Recently, I’ve started getting the Cooking Newsletter from New York Times and this is where I came across Mario Batali’s recipe for a Roman classic: Penne all’Arrabbiata, or “furious penne.” As its name might lead you to believe, this is a spicy dish and the spice, or “fury” comes from one source: dried red pepper flakes, or peperoncini.

Batali’s recipe calls for a tablespoon of hot-red pepper flakes, but as I use the Calabrian variety, which I believe are considerably hotter than most, I reduce this amount considerably. But let your own palate be the judge. It also calls for 1/2 cup of tomato paste, which is toasted briefly with the peperoncini in olive oil. This makes for an intense tomato flavor, especially if you use the concentrated Italian variety that comes in a tube.

Like many of Batali’s dishes, this pasta is finished with an additional 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil that contributes a silky texture to the sauce.

I urge you to make this recipe; it’s simple, quick, and well, just delicious.

1. Toast the tomato paste and peperoncini:


2. Add the chopped tomatoes and remove from heat:

With the chopped tomatoes
With the chopped tomatoes

3: Add the cooked pasta, some reserved pasta water, and toss over medium heat. Finish with olive oil.

The finished pasta
The finished pasta

Wine Pairing: Frascati, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

4 thoughts on “Penne all’Arrabbiata

  1. Roland:

    That may be a tasty dish, but it’s far from the traditional Roman recipe in several key respects — crushed red pepper rather than whole diavolini, the use of tomato paste at all, the addition of olive oil at the end. That’s italian-style, not Italian, and Italian-style I think is what Batali cooks — not Italian. Sorry to go all purist on you, but penne al’arrabiata is one of my favorite dishes, and I love the traditional way of making it.


    1. You can never go too purist on me, Tom. Perhaps I should have noted that this is Batali’s variation on a classic. The use of tomato paste intrigued me and that’s one of the reasons I prepared the dish. And although quite different from the true Italian version, it was very good.

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