Who doesn’t love a delicious bowl of pasta? Red sauce, white sauce, pink sauce- Indian restaurants and moms have given the pasta a desi twist. But today’s recipe is authentic Italian penne arrabiata. Penne is the shape of pasta which looks like a tunnel. And arrabiata is the italian word for ‘angry’, meaning thereby that the dish we are here to cook today is not for the frail hearted. Lets begin.
whole wheat penne pasta (I highly recommend Del Monte’s)- One cup
large, ripe, bright red tomatoes- Five
Chopped garlic pods- approximately 15 pods
Diced black olives (optional)
Grated mozzarella cheese (quantity as desired)
Salt- one teaspoon for sauce and one tablespoon for boiling pasta
Dried parsley- one tablespoon
Red chilli flakes- one tablespoon
Olive oil- three tablespoons for the sauce and one tablespoon for boiling pasta
Here We go
To boil the pasta:
Heat water in a deep, thick bottomed pan, bring it to a boil.
Add one tablespoon salt and one tablespoon of olive oil to it.
Add the one cup of pasta to it.
Let it boil on high flame for 15 minutes exactly.
To prevent overflowing of water, place a wooden spoon/spatula/chopstick diagonally over the pan. Try it today and thank me later.
After 15 minutes of boiling, turn off the flame. Do not cover with a lid. To check if your pasta is just right, take out one Penne and cut it with a knife. If it cuts smoothly, the pasta is done. If it shows rough edges and uncooked insides then boil it for 1-2 minutes more and re-check.
The pasta should not be over boiled, else it will be soggy, drooping and the dish will not taste good.
Strain the pasta out.
The pasta needs to go directly into hot sauce while it's cooking.
To prepare the sauce:
Blanch the tomatoes. For this you need to make a cut on the bottom part of the tomatoes in the shape of a cross, then put the tomatoes into boiling water and keep them immersed in water for precisely 12 seconds (not one less or one more). Then take them out and quickly put them in a pot of ice cold water. Then peel off the skin. For my convenience I put only one tomato at a time, so that I can perfectly time them.
Cut the peeled tomatoes, remove all the seeds and pulp using your fingers and then cut the tomatoes into small pieces. The smaller the better. You can use the seeds and the pulp later in any of your other dishes or you can apply it to your face, it will tighten your pores and give a natural glow.
Now take three tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick pan. Be generous as traditionally in penne arrabiata you must be able to taste the olive oil in the dish.
Add chopped garlic. Give it a nice toss. Keep the flame less as you do not want to burn the garlic.
Add one tablespoon of chilli flakes. This will do our requirement of ‘angry’ in the dish. In desi pasta we add chilli flakes only as a garnish, but in the traditional recipe we saute the chilli flakes in the oil. Doing this will bring out the exciting and hot flavour of the chilli flakes.
Do not let the garlic and chilli flakes burn.
Add chopped tomatoes. Add salt. Keep on cooking this till the tomatoes get cooked and the whole sauce starts sticking together.
At this stage, you can taste the sauce for salt and chillies, and add accordingly. If the sauce feels tangy and not spicy, it means that you need to add more chilli flakes.
Now add the boiled pasta straight after straining.
Add chopped olives.
Give the whole pan a good toss, mixing the sauce and the pasta. Be gentle with your hand, do not break the pasta.
Add dried parsley and mix.
You can add grated mozzarella cheese here if you like cheesy recipes. But my daughter is not a huge fan of cheese so I add cheese only to garnish. Mix it well and turn off the flame.
Transfer the dish into a nice flat serving plate. Garnish it with grated mozzarella cheese.
Voila! Your Penne Arrabiata is ready. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty that you have just created. Serve piping hot.
Transfer the just-boiled pasta straight into the hot sauce while it's cooking. If you could not match your timing perfectly, then just let the pasta sit in the hot water without covering with a lid. This will earn you 3-6 minutes.
The seeds and pulp of the tomatoes must be completely removed to maintain the smooth texture of the sauce.
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