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Penne with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Penne with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 Serves 4 to 6.
The red pepper flakes make this sauce angry (arrabbiata) and give the dish its Italian name, penne allarrabbiata. Use the lesser amount if your palate is timid, the greater amount if you prefer to taste the sauce the way it would likely be made in Rome.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 lb. ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. dried penne
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese


In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes (see note) and sauté for 1 minute to release the garlics fragrance. Add 1 Tbs. of the parsley and cook for a few seconds, then add the tomatoes. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer briskly, stirring often, until the tomatoes break down and form a sauce, about 15 minutes. Add water as necessary to thin the sauce and keep it from sticking. Season with salt. Remove from the heat.

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir well and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), about 12 minutes or according to the package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, reheat the sauce gently over low heat.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the warm pot. Add the sauce and toss. Add 1/4 cup of the pecorino cheese and toss again, adding some of the reserved water if needed to thin the sauce. Divide among warmed bowls. Top each portion with equal amounts of the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and the remaining 1 Tbs. parsley. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Classic Pasta at Home, by Janet Fletcher (Time-Life Books, 1998).