A simple tomato pasta sauce that has a kick of heat and plenty of flavour. This Penne Arrabiata recipe shows that vegan food doesn't have to be boring or complicated. And it's ready in just 15 minutes!
Penne Arrabiata is a simple and delicious pasta dish, and super quick to make too. Make with store cupboard staples, penne is tossed in a thick and rich spicy tomato sauce and then topped with fresh basil (and cheese if you want to). It's the perfect quick weeknight meal with plenty of flavour.
What is Penne Arrabiata?
Penne Arrabiata, also spelled Penne Arrabbiata is an Italian pasta dish made with penne pasta and a rich tomato based sauce with garlic, chilli and oil. Traditionally the sauce would be made with fresh tomatoes, but we used tinned tomatoes because we like to be able to enjoy this all year round. It originates from the Lazio area of Rome in Italy
Arrabiata translates to angry, so this recipes actually means angry pasta because of the chillies that are used in the sauce.
Why should you try it?
- Ready in 15 minutes - Penne Arrabiata is a quick and easy pasta dish for those busy week nights.
- Easy to make as spicy or mild as you like - If you love chilli, then this is one for you, but it's easy to adapt and make it milder.
- Simple, natural ingredients that you probably have in your cupboard - No need to buy any fancy ingredients as this uses store cupboard basics.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Penne pasta - Any kind of short pasta would work, like rigatoni or fussili, but penne is traditional.
- Tomatoes - We used a can of chopped tomatoes but you could use fresh diced tomatoes instead if you prefer. Just make sure the tomatoes are in season and really juicy. The quality of the tomatoes are important, as the cheap ones tend to be watery and you want a nice and thick sauce.
- Tomato puree (tomato paste) - Not only does this help to thicken the sauce, but it also gives it a more intense tomato flavour too.
- Garlic - The more garlic the better we say. Freshly crushed is always best and try to crush it in to almost a paste, so that it evenly distributes in this Penne Arrabiata sauce.
- Chilli - This is the main flavour of the arrabiata sauce and feel free to adjust it to suit your own tastes. We used dried red chilli flakes, as we always have them in the cupboard, but you could use fresh red chilli if you prefer for your spicy tomato sauce.
- Oil - Use a really good quality virgin olive oil for the arrabiata sauce.
- Basil - This really lightens ip the finished dish.
- Parmesan (optional) - Obviously adding this means that it would no longer be vegan. However, if you do want to add some cheese then this is a good addition. You could use a vegan alternative to an Italian hard cheese to keep it vegan.
How to make Penne Arrabiata - Step by step
One: Add the pasta to a pan of boiling water and simmer for 12 minutes.
Two: Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the chilli and garlic and cook on a low heat for 1-2 minutes.
Three: Add the chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper to the pan and stir well and simmer until the pasta is ready.
Four: Drain the pasta (reserving a little of the water) and add to the sauce along with the basil.
Five: Stir well and serve.
What to serve with Penna Arrabiata
This is a light and simple meal, but one with plenty of flavour, so just a sprinkling of grated Parmesan is really all that's needed. If you wanted to bulk it out with something else, or just add some protein, you could add some cooked chicken or prawns (shrimp). Keep it vegetarian by adding some cubes of grilled halloumi or, to keep it vegan, some tofu.
If you want to bulk this meal out a bit, then serve it with some garlic bread. Either buy some ready made, or make your own easy garlic bread by cutting up some French stick and spreading it with a mix of butter, crushed garlic and dried herbs. Then pop it in the oven for 10 minutes. Why not try our Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread?
You could also keep it simple with a big green salad. The key to an epic green salad is to use a variety of greens, like romaine, spinach, kale and rocket. You want leafy greens, but crunch too. Then you need the perfect dressing. Why not try our Lemon Vinaigrette, Honey and Mustard Dressing or Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette. You could also try our Grilled Little Gem Salad, or Cucumber and Radish Salad.
Store: This sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, if kept in an airtight container.
Freeze: To freeze, put in an airtight container and leave a gap of about 1cm (0.5 inch), before putting the lid on. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Defrost: You can defrost this penne arrabiata in the fridge overnight.
Reheat: To reheat, defrost fully and then heat in a pan on the hob (stove top).
Any pasta will work, but pasta is made in different shapes and sizes for a reason. The best is penne as the tube shape holds the sauce well and means you will have a tasty mouthful each time. Other good pastas for Arrabbiata are rigatoni, macaroni or paccheri. You can use fussili too, if that is all you have, but that pasta is better suited to thinner sauces.
You can tell from the translation, 'angry sauce', that this is going to be spicy! Of course, you can adjust the amount of chilies that you put in to make it milder, but then it will only be an 'annoyed sauce', and that sounds silly! If you still want a tomato pasta sauce, without the kick of heat, try our Easy Tomato Pasta Sauce or Marinara recipes.
• You could adapt the amount of chilli though to suit more delicate pallets and make it kid friendly, but the whole point of this dish is for it to have a bit of a kick to it.
• A teaspoon of fish sauce in the recipe will add a real savoury depth to the sauce. This will no longer be vegetarian/vegan if you include this. You can also use pureed anchovies to get this umami flavour.
• If you want to thin your arrabiata pasta sauce out a little and make it smoother, then reserve some of the pasta water and add it to the sauce.
• If you wanted to add some vegetables to this, then spinach added towards the end of cooking would work well.
More pasta sauce recipes
If you’ve tried this penne arrabbiata recipe, then let us know how you got on in the comments below.
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- 140 g penne pasta
- 1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
- 3 garlic cloves - crushed
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 400 g chopped tomatoes - canned
- 2 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
- 4 tablespoon fresh basil - finely chopped
- 15 g parmesan - optional
- Add the pasta to a pan of boiling water and simmer for 12 minutes.140 g penne pasta
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the chilli and garlic and cook on a low heat for 1-2 minutes.1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes, 2 tablespoon olive oil, 3 garlic cloves
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and salt and pepper to the pan and stir well and simmer until the pasta is ready.400 g chopped tomatoes, 2 tablespoon tomato puree, 1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
- Drain the pasta (reserving a little of the water) and add to the sauce along with the basil.4 tablespoon fresh basil
- Stir well and serve topped with Parmesan.15 g parmesan
- You could adapt the amount of chilli though to suit more delicate pallets and make it kid friendly, but the whole point of this dish is for it to have a bit of a kick to it.
- A teaspoon of fish sauce in the recipe will add a real savoury depth to the sauce. This will no longer be vegetarian/vegan if you include this.
- If you want to thin your arrabiata pasta sauce out a little and make it smoother, then reserve some of the pasta water and add it to the sauce.
- If you wanted to add some vegetables to this, then spinach added towards the end of cooking would work well.