This spicy pasta is higher in fat than most of my recipes because it contains a little olive oil. Save it for a special occasion.
First disclaimer: There’s oil in this recipe. Olive oil. Not a lot of it, but it’s there. So, if a little oil on a blog with the word “fatfree” in the title is going to send you into fits of apoplexy, please stop reading now. I don’t want to be responsible for any heart attacks or random acts of mayhem.
Second disclaimer: This is supposed to be Penne All’Arrabbiata, but when I first posted it, I was all out of penne so I made and photographed it with spiral pasta. I won’t lie to you. It tastes better with penne–something about the sauce getting into those little tubes. So, if you’re making this at home, use the penne, even if you have to run to the store in the rain to get it. Don’t be lazy like me.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…
This is a dish that is near and dear to my heart. When I first started making this recipe, from 365 Ways to Cook Pasta by Marie Simmons, it contained a quarter cup of olive oil. At the time, a quarter cup didn’t seem like that much. Oh how times have changed! Today I know that a quarter cup of oil adds over 13 grams of fat per serving. And the truth is, the recipe doesn’t need that much olive oil. It does need some–the flavor just isn’t the same without it–but you can get the fruity, rich taste of olive oil into this recipe without using a ton of it. When I made this last night, I used 2 teaspoons of good extra virgin olive oil; truth be told, it probably would have tasted better with a tablespoon. I will leave it up to you to adjust the recipe to your tastes and comfort level.
Slightly embarrassing personal note: This dish is special to me because I made it for my husband on the first trip we took together. We rented a rustic cabin in the mountains, and I brought all the ingredients and tools for making this dish, including the already-pureed tomatoes. We had the mountains spread out before us, good wine, and this exquisitely spicy pasta dish. It was magic.
Now, after 11 years, one child, several job changes, and a big move to another state together, we can still be instantly transported back to that cabin in the mountains by this simple dish. Try it with someone you love. Just try not to leave out the olive oil.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil or to taste
- 3 teaspoons garlic finely minced (use fresh, not the jarred; trust me)
- 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes use less if you don't like spicy
- 1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes
- salt to taste
- 8 ounces pasta penne or ziti preferred
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
Sauté the garlic and red pepper in the olive oil for about 3 minutes; do not brown the garlic!
Use a blender to puree the tomatoes. (I use a hand blender right in the can and leave them slightly on the chunky side.) Stir the tomatoes into the garlic mixture. Simmer, stirring, until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes; drain. Toss with the sauce and cook for a couple minutes more. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with a good crusty bread. Serves 4.