Pasta all’Arrabbiata

by on February 4, 2006
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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. Jump to Recipe.

Penne Arrabbiata

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.

Penne all'Arrabbiata

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.


Penne all'Arrabbiata

Pasta All’Arrabbiata

Course Main Course
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 268 kcal
Author Susan Voisin


  • 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


  1. Sauté the garlic and red pepper in the olive oil for about 3 minutes; do not brown the garlic!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Nutrition Facts
Pasta All’Arrabbiata
Amount Per Serving
Calories 268 Calories from Fat 31
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3.4g 5%
Sodium 289mg 12%
Potassium 484mg 14%
Total Carbohydrates 51g 17%
Dietary Fiber 3.5g 14%
Protein 9g 18%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Rotini Arrabbiata

Original Photo 2006

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nancy S May 17, 2012 at 10:33 am

This sounds good, and so simple!


2 Pat Cundall May 17, 2012 at 10:46 am

That’s not embarrassing that’s beautiful!

I’m so going to make this dish tonight, but will add capsicum and perhaps mushrooms.


3 Marian Gleason May 17, 2012 at 11:24 am

Precious story – I’m going to go BUY some olive oil AND fresh garlic for this recipe. See if my Bill falls in love with it too! 🙂 I’ll post a review comment later!!! xxMarian


4 Pat Cundall May 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Delicious, I also added onion and a bit more crushed chillies on top – I like it fiery!


5 Marian Gleason May 17, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Posted my photo on my FB page – it was a tad spicy for me, but both Bill & I LOVED IT!! Tonight was our 2-month wedding anniversary, so it was definitely an appropriate meal – LOL!

THANK YOU, SUSAN, for how much you lovingly share your recipes with all of us.

BTW, I only used ONE tsp. of EVOO & it was wonderful! 🙂 xxMarian


6 Caroline Harris May 19, 2013 at 1:54 am

Must admit I don’t find tomato and garlic and pasta any way satisfying – I need veggies in mine.


7 Mary May 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm

That’s not an embarrassing story! That’s wonderful!


8 Leila May 24, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I really enjoy reading what you write! And your recipes have transformed my kitchen and diet. Congratulations on your anniversary. Leila


9 Jill February 7, 2015 at 12:43 pm

I love the back story! There’s a Dollar Store here in San Francisco that sells, yes, $1 bottles of olive oil. I think they must be about 1/4 cup? in the cutest little bottles you’ve ever seen, with the same type of labeling as regular bottles.

I’m on a tear to lose my last 15 pounds so I’m doing the 5 Bite Diet for it and I plan on having this dish around when I do! I will need to cut the recipe down by at least half. Even a $1 bottle of olive oil will be a lot!

Thank you for what looks like a delicious and SIMPLE recipe!


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