26 March 2009

Pasta all'Arrabiata

Angry pasta. Traditional of inexpensive cafés and street vendors in Rome, all'arrabiata relies heavily on the pungency of fresh garlic and red peppers. This is a simple and delicious pasta dish that gratifies both the 'comfort food' and the 'desire food' cravings. It is ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. An excellent choice for an impromptu mid-week dinner, or a perfect Saturday lunch.

The way I do it:

1 lb. Pasta of choice. (I typically use dried Linguine)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
4 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and diced
4-6 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
6 or to taste Calabrian Peppers, seeded and chopped or
Red Pepper flakes
Fresh Basil leaves, julienned
Sea Salt
Pecorino Romano, freshly shaved

Bring well salted water to a boil and cook pasta al dente. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat oil and sauté garlic and peppers over medium-high heat for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in tomatoes and basil. Toss with pasta and serve, sprinkled with sea salt and shaved Romano.

Romano is salty. I just like the crunch of the sea salt flakes. I don't use too much of either. If you like a lot of cheese on your pasta, omit the salt, if desired. Also, the minty basil adds an intricate contrast to the peppers. Use it only if it's fresh.

I enjoy this with a full fruited Barbera. Cascade Cliffs of Washington (2006 vintage), makes the most plum forward variety I've had. It is immediately approachable and quells the heat of the dish effectively, without diminishing the flavour.

This wine can be found at my neighbourhood wineshop, The Blackbird. Incidentally, I highly recommend their Nebbiolo 2005, as well.


  1. Nik,
    Not sure that I know what Calabrian Peppers are in terms of what they look like and taste like...I can probably find them, but if I could not and wanted to make your delicious pasta, would there be a suitable substitute?

  2. Nicole,
    I would recommend soaking some dried red pepper flakes in some olive oil for a good amount of time. Calabrian peppers are small, long, red peppers that come preserved in oil. They are incredibly delicious. They are fairly difficult to find, so I would try an Italian specialty import shop.


  3. I love this pasta dish and I'm inspired to make it again. It's amazing how the Italians find a way to combine simple ingredients to make the MOST delicious food.

    Have you ever read the Italian Jewish cookbook by Joyce somebody? The recipes are actually the opposite of what I just said above but it has some really amazing ideas in it. Most people think of Jewish food as ... not so great (which I have found to be a fair assessment). This book proves that wrong though.