Penne Arrabiata

A spicy but delicious tomato-based pasta sauce. This recipe is derived from one in Scales well. I've cooked this for a dozen hungry hikers. Just multiply the sauce up (but beware, pasta for a dozen is a hard task to get right).


Serves: 3-4

  • 400 grams Italian Chopped Tomatoes (the canned or carton varieties from tescos work just fine, but will offend purists)
  • 3-4 Anchovy Fillets
  • 2-3 Cloves Garlic, minced or crushed
  • Black Olives in brine, rinsed and chopped (amount subject to taste, try two large handfuls to start)
  • Capers in brine, rinsed (and chopped if you use large capers, leave whole for smaller varieties, again amount to taste, try a small handful to start)
  • 1 Fresh Red Chilli, finely chopped (more if you find it needs more of a kick, but cook once with only one for reference)
  • 1 Small onion, chopped fine
  • 4 tbsp Olive Oil (as always with italian cooking, don't use a mild olive oil, it adds its own flavour)
  • Fresh Basil & Dried Oregano to taste

  • 400g Dried Penne Pasta (or 600g if you prefer a less sauce-heavy dish to serve 4-6)
  • Grated Parmesan & Ground black pepper to season


  1. Heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat and add the onion, chilli, garlic, and anchovy fillets. Cook until the onion is translucent and the anchovy fillets have dissolved.
  2. Add the tomatoes, olives and capers. At this point, put the pasta on.
  3. Stir the sauce and allow it to reduce for a few minutes then drop the heat to low, add basil / oregano at this point if you are using them (they're optional, but about 1 tsp of dreid oregano and a handful of chopped fresh basil would add something to the sauce). Keep stirring whilst the pasta cooks.
  4. Once the pasta is Al Dente, drain, stir the sauce into the pasta and serve immediatly with grated parmesan and ground black pepper.

Goes well with a chilled dry white wine to offset the slightly rough (anchovy) and fiery (chilli) nature of the sauce.

N.B. Don't add salt to this sauce at any point. Even the most thoroughly rinsed and drained olives and capers will carry the brine with them. That's plenty salty enough. Similarly, don't over salt the pasta.