Penne with Spicy Tomato Sauce

serves 6

This recipe is from Patricia Wells’ Trattoria. It’s also known as Penne all’Arrabbiata. I prefer Patricia’s pasta with the vodka-cream sauce, but this is also really good and doesn’t have dairy. I probably make this more to use as my tomato base for pizza-on-the-grill.


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 plump fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp crush red peppers (hot red pepper flakes), or to taste
  • Sea salt
  • 1 28-ounce can peeled Italian plum tomatoes in juice, or 1 28-ounce can crush tomatoes in purée – I use Contadina Crushed Tomatoes without any added seasoning
  • 1 pound dried Italian tubular pasta, such as penne
  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, snipped with a scissors


  • In an unheated skillet large enough to hold the pasta later on, combine the oil, garlic, crushed red peppers , and a pinch of salt, stirring to coat with the oil
  • Cook over moderate heat just until the garlic turns golden but does no brown, 2 to 3 minutes
  • If using whole canned tomatoes, place a food mill over the skillet and purée the tomatoes directly int it. Crushed tomatoes can be added directly from the can.
  • Stir to blend, and simmer, uncovered until the sauce begins to thicken, about 15 minutes
  • Taste for seasoning
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add 3 TBL sea salt and the penne, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking.
  • Cook until tender but firm to the bite. Drain thoroughly.
  • Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Toss, cover, and let rest over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb the sauce
  • Add the parsley and toss again.
  • Transfer to warmed shallow soup bowls and serve immediately.
  • [optional] serve with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

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