Not-Your-Nonna’s Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe
Sugo all’arrabbiata. The angriest sauce in all of Italian cuisine. It might not be as angry as your nonna when you don’t listen to her, but it can pack quite a punch. Hailing from the Lazio region (think Rome) of Italia, like my ancestors, you’d think that it’d be blasphemy for me to even consider altering the thousand-year old recipe, but… I can’t help myself.
You see, this is a simple sauce that doesn’t quite hit the spice level of fra diavolo, but compared to commercial Italian pasta sauces in American grocery stores, it’ll make your nose run a bit. Typically, its made from striking the perfect balance of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and red chiles (most use red chili flake), but we’re really going off the walls here and using a much different source of heat.
No, we’re not talking about Calabrian chili oil; we wouldn’t dare use ingredients from Southern Italia. We’d rather take a near 7,000 mile plane from Rome to Jakarta, to pick up some SAMBAL! I hope we haven’t lost you, yet, because this is about to get tasty.
- 1 28oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 heaping tsp sambal chili
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- 1 bulb garlic
- whatever pasta you want
- salt & pepper to taste
- Empty a can of San Marzano tomatoes into a saucepan. Sure, Naples is a bit south, but the sweetness of this Italian delicacy are going to create the perfect balance with the heat of the sambal. Turn heat to medium.
- In a separate pot, boil water for pasta, and put it in until it’s al dente but DON’T rinse the pasta.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the BEST extra virgin olive oil, and give it a quick stir.
- Rough chop half a bulb of garlic. Yes, seriously, that much. You don’t need to mince it. Use your knife skills. Add that and stir.
- Add 2 (heaping) teaspoons of sambal chili paste. Stir.
- Add 1 teaspoon of dried oregano because we’re classy. Stir.
- Add half-a-dozen rough chopped fresh basil leaves. Chill, this isn’t pesto. Stir.
- Taste it and add salt & pepper accordingly.
- Bring to a boil and then pour all of that goodness into your blender and pulse, pulse, pulse. (This is why you didn’t need to go crazy with your knife.)
- Put the mixture back in the saucepan, on low heat for 5 minutes.
- When your pasta is done, add the sauce directly into it. Don’t rinse that pasta. The first thing to touch that pasta after it has finished cooking is the beautiful, rich sauce that it is going to live in until you eat it. Enjoy.
There’s just something that the sambal brings to the table that makes the balance of flavors in this dish marvelous. It’s crucial that you use high-quality, peeled tomatoes from San Marzano, whether you prefer Cento, La Valle, whatever brand. You can add some more sambal to up the heat, but you’ll lose the nuances of oregano and basil. Your call though, you’re the one cooking at home.
So, skip the canned sauces and make your own Arrabbiata sauce. It’s comparable in price, fun and they taste way better. Just make sure to wear an apron. This one can get messy, but making a mess in the kitchen, is just one sacrifice you’ll have to make on your way to being hungry and fit!