Saturday, 21 March 2009

Easy arrabiata

Everyone should know how to make a basic tomato sauce for pasta. Dolmio and Ragu are the spawn of Satan, and it was only when I tried making my own pasta sauce that I realised I actually like it! Arrabiata sauce has a little bit of chilli in it but besides that it's just a "normal" tomato sauce.

Traditionally you're supposed to use penne for this recipe. I used conchiglie because it's what I had to hand, though it doesn't really make any difference. I've also seen different herb combinations used - parsley also works well. If you want something a bit more substantial you could try serving this with chicken or tuna.

This recipe will serve about four people.


  • 300g dried penne or similar pasta
  • 2 400g tins chopped Italian tomatoes (I think!)
  • 2 red chillies
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 red onions
  • Leaves from a handful of thyme sprigs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • Flaked parmesan, to serve


  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan on a medium heat.
  2. Finely chop the garlic and chillies and dice the onions. Fry the garlic and chillies for about 30 seconds before adding the onions and continuing to cook them for a further 5-10 minutes until they've started to caramelise.
  3. Meanwhile, weigh the pasta and put it in a saucepan. Pour a liberal quantity of water from the kettle into the saucepan and add a little salt. Bring it to the boil and then simmer briskly for about 7 minutes until the pasta is al dente (that is, it's cooked but not overcooked and it still offers slight resistance when you bite it).
  4. Once the onions are caramelising nicely, add the chopped tomatoes, raise the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Season the sauce and add the herbs while this is going on.
  5. Drain the pasta and mix it into the sauce. Cook it for a couple of minutes and then serve with a garnish of flaked parmesan.

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