July 16, 2021

Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce

Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce! If you like heat then you've gotta try this healthy pasta sauce.
Serves 4-6

Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce! If you like heat then you’ve gotta try this healthy pasta sauce.
Homemade tomato sauce with crushed red pepper and lots of garlic.
Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe

Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce! One of my favorite quick dinners and proof that something so simple as tomatoes, olive oil and red pepper flakes can taste incredibly complex. Funny enough, as I post this Arrabbiata recipe today, I’m reminded that I’ve already posted a similar recipe twice already. I clearly have a thing for spicy pasta. 

One version is served over pasta with roasted zucchini cubes and another contains a few more vegetables. Both are incredibly delicious but if you’re looking for classic Arrabbiata sauce then this is the recipe for you. 

I’m fairly certain you’ve already got all of the ingredients in your pantry already (perhaps minus the fresh basil) to make this spicy Arrabbiata sauce, so you’re 99% of the way there. Make this one soon.

Infusing the butter with the chilli flakes and garlic is crucial for this recipe.

How to make Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce

Here’s the secret to this Arrabbiata sauce, a trick I learned from Katie of Katie’s Pizza and Pasta here in St. Louis. Sauté the garlic and crushed red pepper in both olive oil and butter.

The butter (a vegan version works!) offers more complex flavor than the olive oil, while helping to emulsify the crushed tomatoes into a sauce. Cooking the red pepper flakes in this fatty goodness helps impart spice throughout the entire dish. Don’t skip it! You need the fat to bloom the red pepper flakes and provide the spicy flavor throughout the entire dish. 

Then, you’ll add whole tomatoes that you’ll crush with the back of a wooden spoon as the sauce cooks. It’s really important to use good tomatoes here. Spend the extra dollar, it’s worth it. I made this dish with generic tomatoes and then made it again with the good stuff (you know the kind, the $2-3 can of whole tomatoes) and it was so much better than the first version. I know this to be true when I make my homemade red sauce, so why did I think it would be any different with whole tomatoes?

Add the tomatoes to the pepper mixture then slowly cook, crushing the tomatoes to make a chunky sauce. If you’re using the good tomatoes, they should mash fairly easily, but you might have to remove any tough stem ends with your hands. 

Then, add in the basil leaves and cooked pasta. Drizzle in a little of the reserved pasta cooking water to allow the sauce to really stick to the pasta. Add cheese, if desired, and serve.

The sauce is rich and satisfying. Use immediately or store for later use.

Here’s the question you will end up asking yourself: how can something so simple, be so good? And, that’s really the beauty of most pasta dishes. They take minimal effort to prepare, with dynamite flavor. Perhaps that’s why we enjoy a bowl at least once a week.

More Vegan Pasta Recipes

Vegan Pumpkin Bolognese
Caramelized Onion Fettuccine
Simple Fresh Tomato Sauce
Vegan Pesto Pasta
Spicy Vegan Pasta with Sausage

Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce

What does Arrabbiata Mean? 

Arrabbiata means “angry” in Italian, representative of the spicy sauce in this dish. 

How do you pronounce Arrabbiata? 

I love saying Arrabbiata, especially as I can hear my grandmother’s voice in my head as I do. It’s pronounced ahrr-ahbb-yah-tah.

Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking! 

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Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe

Spicy Arrabiata Sauce

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: dinner, main, pasta
  • Cuisine: Italian, vegetarian

Description

Spicy Arrabiata Sauce! If you like heat then you’ve gotta try this healthy pasta sauce. Homemade tomato sauce with crushed red pepper and lots of garlic. Delicious and healthy!


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: dinner, main, pasta
  • Cuisine: Italian, vegetarian
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: dinner, main, pasta
  • Cuisine: Italian, vegetarian
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter (vegan butter works for non-dairy version)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper chili flakes (I will add up to 2 tablespoons for a really spicy sauce. 1 tablespoon is probably good for most people, add more if you like more spice)
  • 2 28ounce cans of whole tomatoes (I use unsalted and add salt, take note if you use salted, you’ll want to use less salt overall. The quality of tomatoes matters; this is a great place to spend an extra dollar or two for good canned tomatoes.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
  • cooked pasta and reserved pasta water, for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat the butter and olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook until garlic is soft, stirring often. Take care not to burn the garlic, it will ruin the sauce if it becomes too browned.
  2. Add the tomatoes and the juice to the pan, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon as you stir. If your tomatoes have tough ends, remove them from the pan all together. I like sauce with just a little texture, but break down the tomatoes to your liking. Simmer for 30 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  3. While the sauce is cooking, make your pasta (or whatever you are serving this with.) I like a hearty tube pasta, but anything kind will work. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before draining pasta.
  4. Stir in the basil leaves and season with salt. I start with 1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt and add more if needed. If you used salted tomatoes, you won’t need as much.
  5. If serving with pasta, add the just al dente pasta (I undercook by a minute or two to finish cooking in the sauce) along with a tablespoon of pasta water. Stir to combine, adding more pasta water a tablespoon at a time to loosen the sauce. Season to taste and serve immediately. Delicious with parmesan or vegan parmesan cheese and extra fresh basil.

did you make this?

Tag @delishknowledge on Instagram and hashtag it #delishknowledge

This post was first published in January 2018 and has been updated with new images, July 2021. 

Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce! If you like heat then you've gotta try this healthy pasta sauce. Homemade tomato sauce with crushed red pepper and lots of garlic. Delicious and healthy! #vegan #vegetarian #glutenfree #pasta #italian #dinner #tomato #sauce #weeknightdinner #spicy | www.delishknowledge.com

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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  1. We have a TON of homegrown tomatoes from our garden. Can we swap the canned tomatoes for fresh? If so, should I make any other adjustments to the recipe?

  2. Amazing recipe! I had this dish for the first time in Italy and I was thus inspired to try this recipe and it is honestly so yum!

  3. I made this for dinner last night, and I couldn’t stop dipping my crusty bread in that sauce. Such great spice. I’ll be making this again.

  4. Hey Alex! Is it necessary to use canned tomatoes? Or will fresh tomatoes work as well in place of the canned ones?

  5. This recipe is amazing! Everything in it utilizes ingredients we always have at home (I used dried basil rather than fresh, but it tasted just as good) and it was super easy to make. I added some slicked andouille sausage (I wanted to go with Italian sausage, but the grocery store in my small town has limited options) and it tasted great with the hearty, spicy sauce. My boyfriend had three helpings! I definitely plan on making this again soon.