Friday, February 24, 2006

Penne all'arrabbiata

This one has been a staple since I first learned to make it in Rome as a student 17 years ago. It's essentially a perfect plate of pasta, balancing the sweetness of tomatoes with the heat of pepperoncini and the depth of garlic.

The key is to cook the peppers and garlic until the garlic JUST colors, then dump in the tomatoes. I always use whole peeled organic; the purées and "sauces" have the wrong texture and flavors. One 28 oz. can to one pound of pasta is just right- just break up the tomatoes with your spoon a bit. The sauce will have reduced enough by the time the pasta is ready to be transfered to the sauce for the last minute or two. Finished with minced parsley and more good oil, and NEVER served with cheese, it's as good as comfort food gets.

I usually serve it with oily garlicky spinach, escarole, or broccoli on the side and either rosé to handle the heat or something weird and funky like Vareij by Hilberg/Pasquero.

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