A delightful pasta recipe, this spaghetti arrabiata oozes comfort. Arrabiata in Italian translates to “angry.” Arrabiata sauce is made with a simple mix of garlic and tomatoes, and the “angry” element is added with red pepper flakes. In this version, I have used chilli flakes for the added heat. If you do not like your pasta to be hot from the chilli, you can adjust the quantity as per your preference.
This spaghetti arrabiata recipe is very easy to make. However, easy does not always mean quick. Getting this luscious and thick tomato base for your pasta requires a lot of love and some patience. But the results are absolutely worth it.
You can make this spaghetti arrabiata for a weeknight dinner. Pair it with toasted sourdough or some salad, and you have a delicious and gourmet meal at home. You can also fasten the dinner prep by making the sauce before hand and storing it in the refrigerator. Just boil some pasta and add it to the readymade gravy at meal time.
I have a video where I made this tomato basil sauce in bulk during lockdown and enjoyed it for a whole week. If you have less time or have a number of people to cook for, you can check the video out here.
So let’s get started with this recipe. Let’s take a close look at the ingredients.
Ingredients in this Pasta Arrabiata Recipe
In this recipe, I’ve used the local red tomatoes that we find easily in the Indian markets and it has turned out to be just so good. Tomatoes are just the right amount of sweet and sour that balances all the flavours in this sauce. The tomatoes go through a four step process to get this rich sauce made.
First, they are boiled in water till the skin starts to show slits. Second, they are transferred to ice cold water and the skin is peeled. Third, the tomatoes are blended to a fine paste and finally, the tomatoes are cooked in olive oil and reduced to a thick sauce.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This spaghetti arrabiata recipe is minimalistic in terms of ingredients, which is why quality should not be compromised. Make sure you use high quality extra virgin olive oil for this recipe to get the best flavours.
Garlic plays an important role in adding a lot of flavour to the simple tomato sauce. In pastas, the garlic is always slow cooked in the olive oil to give it enough time to release its flavour. We follow the same step with garlic in this recipe. The garlic is finely chopped and added to cold extra virgin olive oil. Then it is allowed to slow cook and take its time to release its oils into the pan.
Arrabiata means “angry” in Italian. The bright red colour and the hint of chilli justifies this name. To add this chilli element, I have used good quality chilli flakes. You can use authentic red pepper flakes if you have it, or also soak red chillies in warm water and blend it wit the tomatoes.
Basil is a culinary herb used in almost all Italian recipes and several other cuisines worldwide. The flavour of basil is sweet and savoury, with hints of mint, anise, and pepper; however, the herb ultimately adds a hint of sweetness to any dish. While dried basil has more concentrated flavours and can be used in place of fresh, using fresh basil for your recipes is always better as dried uncooked herbs have a slight dusty taste to them and never fully substitute fresh herbs.
Cooking the Spaghetti
No one likes a plate of mushy broken pasta, and so, while it is important to put in our best efforts in perfecting the sauce, where the entire flavour lies, it is also extremely important to boil the pasta to perfection. It is not rocket science, just a few basic steps and you’ll have yourself perfectly cooked pasta every single time:
- Boiling water
It is very important to have enough water in the pan to properly drown the pasta- The lesser volume of water may result in it getting extremely starchy, and bring it to a roaring boil before adding your pasta- the boiling water agitates the pasta pieces, thus helping them cook more evenly, keep them separated from one another and avoid clumps.
A very common mistake a lot of people make is adding oil to their pasta water in order to keep them from sticking to one another. However, this is completely false, as the only thing that can keep the pasta from sticking is an ample amount of water and a rolling boil, and hence is a waste of oil. Adding salt to the pasta water ensures that the pieces/strands of pasta do not remain bland while the only flavour and seasoning are in the sauce, because no one likes to bite into the pasta that has all the flavours in the sauce and none into those pasta pieces.
- Save the pasta water
Saving a couple of ladles of pasta water goes a long way. Not only does the salty pasta water help flavour your sauce, but it also plays a major role, along with butter and olive oil, to bring that glossy magical finish to your pasta. In this recipe, the saline pasta water plays a major role in making the sauce thick and creamy!
- Cook according to package instructions
There is no universal rule to cook the perfect pasta, it completely depends on the brand or product you are using and it is advisable to cook as per the packet instructions; especially timing. The most common way to cook pasta is until al dente, which loosely translates to “to the bite/tooth”, which means almost cooked but not completely cooked. However, the above tips ensure getting perfectly cooked pasta every single time.
Let’s take a look at the recipe.
Preparation time – 45 minutes
Cook time – 40 minutes
Serves – 2
- 1 kg tomatoes
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp chilli flakes
- 200 g spaghetti, cooked till al dente in salty water
- Salt to taste
- Fresh Italian basil leaves
- Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Fill a wide mouthed pot with water and let it come to a boil.
- Put it on the heat and let it boil for about 30 minutes or till the skin of the tomatoes starts to wrinkle.
- Once the tomatoes are boiled, place each of them directly into ice-cold water so that they stop cooking.
- Once the tomatoes cool down and become easy to handle, peel the skin off each tomato and place the peeled tomatoes in a separate bowl.
- Put the peeled tomatoes in a blender and blend them into a fine paste. Do it in batches to avoid a mess.
- Finely chop the garlic and keep ready.
- Pour extra virgin olive oil into a pan and add the garlic before turning on the heat. We need to slowly simmer the garlic and let it cook well and release its flavours into the oil.
- Be patient and cook the garlic in the oil at low flame until the maximum flavour of garlic isn’t released into it. Do not burn.
- Pour the blended tomatoes into the pan and stir till everything is well combined. Keep the heat at medium to low.
- The sauce will take some time to reduce. You can use this time to cook your pasta. Heat water in a pot and add generous amount of salt till the water is saline. Now cook your choice of pasta in the water as per package instructions.
- Cook the tomatoes, stirring regularly till it thickens and is reduced to almost ⅓ rd of its original volume. Make sure you use a heavy bottom pan otherwise your tomatoes might stick to the bottom and burn.
- Cover and cook the tomatoes for about 15-20 minutes or till it reduces to a luscious sauce.
- Season with salt and throw in some Italian basil leaves.
- Keep simmering till sauce thickens and all rawness fades.
- Add your al dente pasta to the sauce along with some salty pasta water and gently mix everything together.
- Once the pasta is cooked well with the sauce, serve on a plate and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy hot!
Simple, rustic and uber delicious. Try out this pasta and have a gourmet restaurant experience at home. I hope you try this delicious spaghetti arrabiata at home.