penne all'arrabbiata

Penne all’Arrabbiata


penne all'arrabbiata


How penne all’arrabbiata got its name

I’m off on holiday (great that there are so many school holidays in France!!) with the family to Venice and Padova in a couple of days.  We’ve decided that our youngest is finally old enough not to try jumping (or falling!) into the canals, so it’s a good time to go.  Before I head off, I wanted to post this wonderfully simple, but very traditional Italian recipe for Penne all’Arrabbiata.  This is one of those dishes that the awesome taste of it belies the short time it takes to prepare it.  “Arrabbiata” means “angry” in Italian, and it’s true that this pasta dish can be VERY “angry”!  The sauce is a simple mixture of peperoncini (red, dried chillis), tomatoes and garlic.  You can’t go wrong with putting those ingredients together!


arrabbiata sauce

The importance of hand-washing with making this sauce

Penne all’Arrabbiata actually originated in the Southern part of Italy where peperoncini grow rampantly and everyone makes sure they wash their hands really, really well.  For who knows when you may be relaxing in a field, having a picnic, and put your hand on top of a stray chilli without realizing it.  That innocent gesture will really come back to haunt you in a big way if you’re not careful……….


Travel photo of the week

I first had Penne all’Arrabbiata in the Cinqueterre area on the North-Western coast of Italy.  I was on holiday for the very first time with my then-boyfriend/now husband, so the eating of the Penne all’Arrabbiata was very memorable for a number of reasons. 🙂  I unfortunately don’t have any digital photos of the Cinqueterre ( it was when we lived in the Dark Ages without even cellphones), but here’s one above of a town a little further North called Camogli, which is a beautiful place to visit and quite similar in the colour of the buildings to Livorno, where I discovered this dish.  I’m sure you can eat Penne all’Arrabbiata there too.


Camogli, Italy

So, now you’ve learnt how to make a great pasta dish AND  you’ve learnt  a new Italian word! So, what do you think?  I could be like those calendars that teach you a word a day, but at the rate I post recipes, you’ll be learning Italian in about 30 years if you stick with me for that…..

Enjoy your Penne all’Arrabbiata!  Wash your hands well!

To find out how to cook pasta like an Italian does, check out my handy guide.

By Lisa Watson


Penne Arrabbiata

This is wonderfully simple, but very traditional Italian recipe for Penne all'Arrabbiata.  This is one of those dishes that the awesome taste of it belies the short time it takes to prepare it. 
Prep Time2 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time17 minutes
Course: entree
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 people


  • 400 g Penne Rigate 14.1 oz
  • 1 – 4 depending on your heat resistance! Dried Red Chillis (peperoncini)
  • 400 ml or 4 – 5 chopped fresh tomatoes Tomato puree 1 3/4 cups
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil


  • Boil the pasta according to the packet instructions.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil with the whole clove of garlic in it.
  • Add the crushed chillis and stir for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the tomato puree/ or fresh chopped tomatoes, and salt to taste.
  • Strain the pasta, take the garlic clove out of the sauce, and add the sauce to the pasta. Stir well and serve hot.