The name of this dish - arrabbiata - refers to the “angry” heat of this chilli-laced tomato sauce. The inclusion of fiery chilli flakes in the arrabbiata sauce distinguishes it from the other classic tomato sauces in the Italian repertoire. A composite dish of ingredients typically present in houses of the Romans, this resourceful dish is vegan by nature, relying on some of Italy’s finest fresh, native produce. Indeed, verandas of homes in Lazio are adorned with beautiful hanging chillies so that, when the need for heat presents itself, an arrabbiata sauce can be conjured up at short notice.
And while the sauce’s true origins are blurred, the fiery arrabbiata is now so synonymous with Lazio that it has even been honoured in film, by the way of Federico Fellini's ‘Roma’ - thereby evidencing the kinship between Romans of past and present, and their formidable arrabbiata.
Traditionally, in Rome, arrabbiata is served atop penne pasta. That being said, our vegan recipe is enjoyed with pasta bianca, meaning pasta made without eggs.
In line with tradition, we steer clear of cheese when garnishing our dish - Italians feel this is an aberration upon their dish, as the cheese mellows the signature heat of arrabbiata. A great vegan garnish for this dish is pangrattato, meaning ‘breadcrumbs’. A healthy scattering of crisp pangrattato makes for a delightful crunch, without tempering the feisty sauce.
Our vegan arrabbiata sauce recipe
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Calories per serving: 467kcal
- 400g fresh vegan pasta - for the recipe, see our guide to vegan pasta.
- 400g peeled, chopped tomatoes
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1-2 fresh chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
- 5-6 leaves fresh basil, shredded
- 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- ½ tsp sugar
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Chef’s tip: If you like your arrabbiata particularly ‘angry’, feel free to leave the chilli seeds in your sauce. Otherwise, gently roll the chillies on your work surface before chopping, to loosen the seeds.
- Heat two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large pot, over a high heat. Add the finely chopped onions and sauté until translucent. Reduce the heat slightly, before adding the minced garlic. Fry this until fragrant, ensuring not to burn the mixture.
- Add the chopped fresh chillies, as well as the dried chilli flakes, and let this infuse in the oil mixture, for a couple of minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, a pinch of sugar, and around a cup of water. Allow this mixture to simmer on a low-medium heat, for around 30 minutes, until thickened.
- In the meantime, prepare your fresh vegan pasta, following our simple pasta bianca recipe, or the video below:
For some traditional pasta shape ideas, see our guide to vegan pasta shapes. We recommend trofie, orecchiette or strascinati/cavatelli.
- Once your sauce has thickened, add the shredded basil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you’re looking for an especially fiery arrabbiata, feel free to add more dried chilli flakes here.
- Heat a pot of generously salted water until boiling, before adding the pasta. Cook the pasta for around 2-3 minutes, or until al dente. Once cooked, strain the pasta, ensuring to reserve a little bit of the starchy cooking water for later.
- Transfer your pasta to the pan with the sauce, and mix well over a low heat. If you need to loosen the sauce, you can also add a few tablespoons of the cooking water kept aside (this will give your dish a nice glossy finish).
- Finally, plate the dish and, should you wish, garnish with a scattering of breadcrumbs, and a touch more basil. Buon appetito.
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