Angry Pasta for Happy Times

It’s been an eventful time here: In the past ten days, my sister and brother-in-law welcomed their teeny son into the world, my mom arrived from out east to visit with the little guy, and two old friends of mine hosted their amazing weddings. Add to that a full work schedule and a bit of extra-curricular studying and the result is a week and a half of survival food: sandwiches and speedy curries.  


And while things here show no sign of slowing down, I made some time this past weekend to put together something more substantial and blog-worthy while I was visiting Mr. Baby and the rest of the crew. This simple pasta is inspired by my summer of Italian adventures, but relies on ingredients you’ll have no trouble finding closer to home. The name of the sauce, “arrabiata”, translates to “angry” — an indication of the kind of heat you can expect from the sauce if you use the full amount of dried chile the recipe calls for. I used just a fraction of that — a 1/4 tsp of dried chiles I brought back from Rome — and my fellow diners agreed that it was plenty angry as-is, so increase the spice level at your own peril!

It’s a speedy recipe and there’s a cute little baby eyeing me (well, kind of — he doesn’t quite focus his eyes yet), so today’s post is a short one. Starting next week, when the craziness has died down a little, I’ll have the full meal deal — instructions photos and all — for you as per usual. Until then, happy (angry) eating!
Penne Arrabiata
Adapted from Una Mamma Italiana
Serves 6-8

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
½ cup red wine
2 tbsp lightly-packed brown sugar
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 8 oz can of tomato paste
1 tsp hot chile flakes
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 28-oz jars of crushed/strained tomatoes (cans work too)
500 grams of dry penne rigate (the ones with the ridges)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add onions and sauté until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until garlic softens, 3-5 minutes more.

Add to the pot the wine, brown sugar, basil, tomato paste, chile and black pepper, stirring to combine. Once combined, stir in the crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook penne according to instructions. Drain pasta and dress with the simmered sauce. Serve with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese.


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