Penne Arrabbiata

PREP TIME: 15mins


The easy fresh arrabbiata sauce relies on flavouring the olive oil with whole garlic, chilli’s and basil leaves before adding the tomatoes. A fresh tasting, ready in 20minutes kinda dinner.

I am not sure I have told you but in my previous life I was Italian. I probably lived around the Ligurian region because that is where basil pesto hails from and to me the best olive oil. I could it pasta everyday, I don’t, but in my previous life I did.

I had some plum tomatoes hanging about and I am well aware it is not tomato season, they were nonetheless deep red and ready to be eaten. This version calls for fresh tomatoes, which you skin and it is an easy and useful skill to have especially in the summer months when the tomatoes are in abundance. Using fresh tomatoes makes the sauce light and fresh. You can off course use two good tins of Italian plum tomatoes too.

Serving Suggestion:

A good sprinkle of pecorino or parmesan would be wonderful.

What you'll need:

Peeling Tomatoes: a bowl of ice cold water, small serrated knife and a large saucepan


  • 320g good Italian pasta of choice (see notes)
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, peel cut in half
  • 500g plum tomatoes or 2 cans plum tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 dried chillies/pinch dried chilli flakes
  • small handful basil leaves, keep stalks
  • salt & pepper
  • Garnish: chopped fresh herbs


  1. Peeling Tomatoes: Add some fridge cold water to a large bowl. Use a small sharp serrated knife and make a small cross at the bottom of each tomato. Boil some water in a large saucepan (the same pan to cook your pasta in), drop the tomatoes into boiling water, after 1/2 minute (30 seconds) remove with a slotted spoon and add the tomatoes to the bowl of cold water. Peel as soon as they are cool enough to handle, the skin should peel away easily.
  2. Roughly chop your tomatoes if using fresh.
  3. Pasta Saucepan: Add more water if needed and salt, bring to a gentle boil, don’t add the pasta yet.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and add the garlic and whole chillies. When the garlic is golden and colouring slightly, remove the chillies and garlic. Finely chop the chillies and mash the garlic with the tip of a knife and set aside.
  5. Put the basil leaves and stalks in the hot oil (be careful it will spit) for a few seconds and remove. Discard the stalks but keep the leaves.
  6. Add the tomatoes and season generously with salt and pepper. If using canned, gently crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Cook gently for 10 minutes. ADD the pasta to your boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain
  7. Add the garlic, basil leaves and chilli to the sauce. Stir in the pasta and mix well. Season once more, garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy.

Kitchen Notes:

My favourite Italian brands are De Cecco and Rummo (good quality gluten free pasta too) and if you are lucky enough Martelli. You can use any short pasta here and even a combination of two different types if you want to get rid of half packets of pasta hanging around.

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