When I’m in the kitchen I try to use as few ingredients as possible. The fewer the ingredients, the more they stand out—and when they’re good, it’s hard to miss. Arrabbiata is a classic Roman pasta sauce made up of only tomatoes, garlic, red chile, and olive oil, so each one has to be of the highest quality. A bright, fresh olive oil is the perfect finishing touch to balance the richness and heat of the sauce.
8 oz penne rigate
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp red chile flakes or 1-2 small fresh red chiles, minced (depending on how hot you like it)
8 oz tomato puree
1/2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan (optional)
In a medium saucepan, add about 6 cups of water and a generous heap of sea salt, about a tablespoon. The water should be salty like the sea, and using less water will concentrate the starchy water that will help bind our sauce. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add your pasta and cook uncovered until just al dente, which will usually be about 1 minute less than the package instructions suggest.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare your sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil plus the garlic and chile, and saute until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato puree and the salt, stir well, and continue to simmer over medium heat until the sauce has thickened and infused with flavor, about 5 minutes.
When the pasta is ready, add 2 tbsp of starchy pasta water to your sauce, then drain the pasta and place back in its saucepan. Add the sauce and cook over medium-low heat for another minute, stirring constantly, just until the pasta has become fully coated and absorbed the sauce. Remove from heat and drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil. Serve with chopped parsley and grated cheese, if you like.