arrabbiata-0383Here I am, still in Italy and ready to share another simple and popular Italian dish (one more in my category dedicated to Italian Recipes).

Arrabbiata means “angry” in Italian, an adjective that describes the Italian temper rather well :). Well, at least a side of it.

The politically correct way to explain this dish is saying that “arrabbiata” term refers to the abundant addition of chilli to the sauce that thus becomes heated and piccante. The name comes from the fact that by eating this spicy dish you are likely to become red as a chilli pepper, just like when you are very angry.

I am personally inclined to think of the arrabbiata pasta somehow as the essence of the Italians – passionate, outgoing and, yeah, often “angry”.  In this dish of the Roman cooking tradition, a very intense and sharp flavor comes from the winning mix “tomato + chilli + garlic”. My touch of “piccante” comes from the dried chilli that I try to carefully adjust to the taste of my guests. When I cook it for myself I toss as much “peperoncino” as I can and if my tongue burns a little it is still OK (after all, I am Italian and “arrabbiata” myself).

arrabbiata-0391The arrabbiata sauce is usually served with Penne, but it is entirely fine to prepare it with a different shape of pasta, such as spaghetti (my favorite one!). Pasta aside, my “arrabbiata” is presented in its simplest version with the only optional addition of a little sprinkling of Parmesan cheese (skip it for a vegan version).

You can make it your own arrabbiata by changing the quantity of the ingredients, more chilli for a spicier pasta or more olive oil, if you fancy it. If you like your sauce to be more sauce-y, you can even add a bit of tin tomatoes. It’ll make the dish less dry and a bit lighter because with more liquid from the canned tomatoes you won’t need the whole amount of oil indicated in the recipe. There’s one thing that makes the difference and you should not compromise with, though. No matter how “angry” you want your sauce to be, the tomatoes must be fairly mature and of great quality.

Buon appetito!


Spaghetti all’arrabbiata


  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove sliced and chopped
  • Chilli and parlsey to taste
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 300 g fresh cherry tomatoes halved
  • 180 g pasta penne or spaghetti


  • Chop the garlic, onion and chilli.
  • Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the chopped garlic and onion into the pan.
  • Sauté for a couple of minutes or until the garlic becomes golden. Then add the chopped tomatoes and chilli. Stir and season with salt.
  • Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, to reduce the sauce.
  • A few minutes before the sauce is ready, boil your pasta and when the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and add it into the pan with the sauce. Make sure to coat the pasta with the sauce by stirring well while the pan is still on the heat.
  • Then, sprinkle with chopped parsley, give a quick stir and serve immediately.

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  1. I’m catching up with your posts now. I love learning about the meanings of the Italian dishes. I’ve had arrabbiata sauce and they are usually vegan-friendly, the spicier ones are the best. Wishing you a lovely time in Italy, where are you at the moment? I’ve a quick question, we are heading to Italy for a month this summer, have you been there to Turin, Milan or Genoa before? My partner has been to Milan briefly and at the train station in Genoa, but I haven’t been to any except for Roma for a week. What did you think of these cities? I would love to hear all about your experiences xx