SPAGHETTI ALL’ARRABBIATA aka Angry Pasta

The first time I came across this dish, I thought it was some sort of an exotic Italian-Middle eastern fusion type thing. I think that shows in the way that I pronounce it as well..arrrrabiata. Any Italian reading this, please pardon my ignorance (if you’re still reading, you’ll be pleased to know that I didn’t go too crazy with the authenticity of the recipe). But the thing is, when you’ve been pronouncing something wrong for a period of time, even after someone corrects you and you’ve figured out the right pronunciation, you just can’t go back to switching it up, you know?

While we’re on this topic, did you know that ‘arrabbiata’ actually means ‘angry’ in Italian? Anger in the form of fieriness and heat from the chillies. I am a real sucker for food facts.

Also, speaking of authenticity, a true food connoisseur would use Parmigiano-Reggiano instead of the common Parmesan that we tend to substitute it with. It’s the quintessential king of cheeses and can be called ‘Parmigiano-Reggiano’ only if its production follows a set of stringent rules set forth by the Italian DOC (Controlled designation of origin). One among them is that it has to be made in the months between May and November and only in certain stipulated areas of Italy. A little like how Champagne cannot be used as a generic name for sparkling wine. No wonder a tiny block of this super-fromage costs an arm and a leg!

Anyway, I just used regular Parmesan for this recipe and it tasted divine, but go ahead and indulge in some of the expensive stuff if you are so inclined.

{Quickly want to point out the changes that I made : a pinch of oregano that wasn’t in the recipe, and sugar to balance out the tartness of the tomatoes. Added olives. The measurements of the ingredients are slightly different too}.

 

INGREDIENTS: (Serves 2)

Adapted from Mario Batali

200 grams Spaghetti *

6 large ripe tomatoes (or) 1 28-oz can of chopped tomatoes

1 large onion, finely diced

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

A handful of pitted black olives, halved

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra to drizzle over the top)

Red chilli flakes, to taste **

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Parmesan cheese

Basil leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

Salt

 

METHOD:

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente. Retain a cup of the water, and then drain and set aside.

If using fresh tomatoes : blanch them in boiling water until their skins start to crack and tear slightly, about 5 – 8 minutes. Drain and run them under cold water to easily peel back their skins. Once slightly cooled, add them to a blender and blitz to a coarse purée. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the chopped onions and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until they start to brown slightly. Sprinkle in the chilli flakes, sugar, and dried oregano, and add the puréed tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes over medium heat until the sauce thickens and gets a little darker. Season with salt and pepper.

Tip the spaghetti into the tomato sauce and toss to combine and coat the strands evenly. Add a bit of the pasta water that you set aside if the dish feels a little dry. Throw in the olives, and garnish with Parmesan and basil. Serve immediately.

* Penne or Rigatoni are good substitutes.

** 1 teaspoon works for me, but go with 1/2 first and taste and add more.

 

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