Penne with a Spicy Tomato Sauce

Penne all’Arrabbiata

This dish is very popular in Rome and central Italy and literally means angry penne because it is meant to be hot and spicy. The amount of hot red pepper may be increased or decreased depending on the intensity of the “anger” you desire.

Total Time from Start to Finish: 1 hour and 15 minutes


  • 1 pound penne
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 ounces pancetta sliced ⅛-inch thick and cut into ¼-inch wide strips
  • 3 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 12 medium sized fresh basil leaves, coarsely shredded
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt


  1. Put the olive oil and chopped garlic In a saucepan and place over medium high heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the pancetta and cook until lightly browned but not crisp.
  2. Add the canned tomatoes, the red pepper flakes, and some salt (go easy on the salt because the pancetta is already rather salty). Lower the heat and simmer until the tomatoes are no longer watery and the oil has separated, 35 to 40 minutes. The sauce may be made ahead of time up to this point and refrigerated.
  3. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, cover, and place over high heat. When the water boils, add 2 tablespoons salt and add the penne. Stir well and cook until al dente.
  4. Reheat the sauce and add the basil. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce, the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and the grated Romano cheese. Taste for salt and spiciness and serve at once