Sunday, 28 October 2012

Some Like It Hot: Penne Arrabbiata

This is a recipe that quite literally spices up a simple pasta night! It is very easy and quick to make, and its absolutely delicious: but be warned! It is HOT!

My boyfriend loves spicy food, and he recently brought me a rather large quantity of very hot peppers. I've been trying to use them up by cooking curries and other Asian dishes when it occurred to me that I had never made my man any arrabbiata. Shame on me for neglecting to treat my beloved to a steaming bowl of fiery hot pasta!

The word "arrabbiata" comes from the word for "angry" in Italian. It's a rather poetic way to describe the intense heat of this inconspicuous little sauce.

The chiles we usually get are scotch bonnets, a particularly intense hot pepper. I always handle them very carefully, never letting them touch my skin, removing all the seeds and inner white skin, and scrubbing the surfaces the chile touched with soapy water. That may sound crazy, but I learned my lesson the hard way the first time I used them! When you buy hot peppers, research their type, and find out where they stand on the Scoville scale: handle them accordingly.

Now here is how to make your volcanic pasta!

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 or 2 fresh chile, thinly chopped
1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes
4 or 5 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Brown sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 package dry penne
Parmesan cheese, grated

Pour the can of tomatoes in a large bowl and crush them by hand.

In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add crushed garlic and chile. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.

Pour the tomatoes in the frying pan, stir, then add the torn basil leaves, a pinch of brown sugar, a pinch of sea salt and some pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes. Bring a large boil of salted water to a boil, add penne and boil until almost ready. Pour the pasta in the tomato sauce and mix for a few minutes using tongs.

Serve with Parmesan to garnish.

A good arrabbiata sauce should make your lips pleasantly tingly, and NOT make your eyes water uncontrollably. So dose the heat nice and easy at first; taste, then add more spice if you can take it. My boyfriend is an ex-smoker, so he can take a lot more spice than me. I like using 1 big chile, which I think does the trick; he prefers 2 chiles. My advice is to try the recipe with 1 chile first, and if you feel you can handle more, make it with 2 chiles the next time. Unless you are fighting a cold, in which case, skip ahead to the 2-chile level immediately!

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