Speedy spicy spaghetti arrabbiata is a quick pasta dinner harnessing the flavor of dried herbs, fresh garlic, and a sweet kick of balsamic vinegar. This simple arrabbiata sauce recipe is also versatile. With a few modifications, you can make multiple pasta dishes using the same quick method.
When you’re in the mood for a red sauce, you need dinner now, and you have no time for shopping or cooking, this recipe is for you. I can’t count the times that I've grabbed 2 cans of tomatoes, raided the spice cabinet, and had dinner on the table in about 20 minutes.
We all need recipes like this. There's no fuss, great flavor, minimal prep, and always satisfying.
There are 7 essential ingredients for making this classic sauce:
Garlic – 6 cloves might sound like a lot of work. Get out the garlic press because no one wants to spend time mincing 6 cloves.
Oregano – When we think of red sauce, and in particular, pizza, there's usually oregano involved. Dried oregano is aromatic, bold, slightly bitter, and peppery.
Basil – Often pared with oregano, basil is sweet, strong, with hints of mint. Dried oregano and basil can be used interchangeably, but they are better together.
Thyme – Thyme is grassy, minty, and lemony and used in a variety of cuisines. It is complimentary to basil and oregano, but no substitute. It has a unique flavor that stands on its own.
Red chili flakes – Liven arrabbiata up with a teaspoon or 2 red chili flakes, a.k.a. crushed red chili. If you happen to have a fresh red chili that you want to use up, you can use that instead.
Canned (tinned) tomatoes – Did you know that canned tomatoes are even better for you than fresh tomatoes?. It’s true. After just 15 minutes of cooking, canned tomatoes release the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to cancer reduction and other diseases.
When it comes to the 'best' canned tomatoes, there are as many opinions as brands. Some folks swear that the Italian brands are the only way to go. Others have a favorite store brand for half the price that they find even better.
I won’t weigh into the brand debate, but I will nudge you toward using canned cherry tomatoes if you have them on hand. Cherry tomatoes are ideal for quick pasta sauces. They are flavorfully sweet and only require a few minutes of cooking time to break down. Chopped tomatoes, on the other hand, require about 30 minutes of cooking to break down.
Balsamic vinegar – Balsamic vinegar is dark, rich, and sweet. It enhances the sweetness of the tomatoes to create a flavorful sauce with a deep flavor. You will not get the same taste if you substitute a different kind of vinegar in this arrabbiata sauce. If you must make a substitute, use red wine vinegar with ½ a teaspoon of liquid sweetener such as date paste.
Fresh basil – If you have it, a handful of fresh basil is a colorful and flavorful addition to this sauce. I've had this recipe many a time without fresh basil, and it's still delicious. If you don't add fresh basil, you can add another teaspoon of dried if you want more of that sweet flavor.
Salt and pepper – Both ingredients are optional, but sometimes a few twists of the pepper mill is a delicious final touch. I’ll leave the salt decision up to you. It depends on the tomatoes you use, your salt preferences, and, as we’ll explore in another section, other ingredients you might be adding.
- Preheat the skillet – Adding garlic to a cold pan increases the potential for sticking. Be sure the skillet is heated to medium, then add the garlic, herbs, and chili flakes.
- Have your tomatoes red to pour before you begin cooking. You only need 30 seconds to saute the garlic. If you pause to locate and open your tomato cans, you can easily scorch the garlic.
- Start the pasta before you start the sauce. If you start with dry pasta, you need about 20 minutes to bring the water to a boil, cook the pasta, and drain it. You’ll need less time than that to cook the sauce.
- Use a skillet or pot with a lid to avoid tomato splatter. I can’t tell you how many times it's happened – I grab my big skillet, I can't find the correct lid, and then I end up scraping tomato splatter off the walls.
- Pre-measure and pack the dried herbs and chili flakes, grab the canned tomatoes, a small bottle of Balsamic, and dry pasta, and you have a quick, satisfying, camping meal.
- Although this sauce is super quick, you can make it ahead and keep it in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for later use. Add this to leftover rice or even mashed potatoes when there isn’t a minute to spare between you and the dinner table.
It wouldn’t be sauce without pasta and our choice is spaghetti. But you don’t need to stop there. We love this quick spaghetti arrabbiata recipe. It never fails to deliver. But if you want to enhance this recipe, here are a few extra ingredients to explore:
- Sliced black olives
- Baked hemp parmesan
- Tempeh crumbles
- Soy curls or TVP soy crumbles
- Tofu sausage crumbles
Passata is made from tomatoes that are pureed and passed and smoothed by passing it through a sieve. It has a brighter tomato flavor than tomato sauce but has a smoother texture than canned crushed or whole tomatoes. Due to its intense flavor, passata can be used for quick sauces in place of canned cherry tomatoes.
Many people experience no difference in flavor between the ‘store’ brands of canned tomatoes and the more expensive premium brands. Economy tomatoes will sometimes be less uniform in size and may be packed in a thinner juice. You can boost the flavor of canned tomatoes using a teaspoon of tomato paste or allowing extra simmering time to reduce your sauce.
Other sauces you might like
speedy, spicy spaghetti arrabbiata
Speedy spicy spaghetti arrabbiata is a quick pasta dinner harnessing the flavor of dried herbs, fresh garlic, and a sweet kick of balsamic vinegar.
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 15 min
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: pasta
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Vegan
- 6 cloves garlic pressed or finely minced
- 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 ½ Tbsp. dried basil
- 2 Tbsp. dried thyme
- 2 tsp. red chili flakes
- 1 - 28 can (800 gm.) of cherry tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- A handful (½ cup) torn or chopped fresh basil leaves
- Salt and pepper if desired
- 8 oz. (226 gm.) spaghetti
- Start the water for the spaghetti.
- Preheat a skillet or pan to medium. Add the garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, and chili flakes. Stir for 30 seconds until everything is mixed.
- Add the tomatoes and bring the ingredients to a slow simmer. Use a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes and remove any bits of garlic herbs from the bottom of the pan.
- Cover the pan and allow the tomatoes to simmer for 10 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down and the sauce thickens.
- Remove the cover and mix in the Balsamic and fresh basil if using.
- Taste and adjust the spices. Add salt and/or pepper if desired.
- Drain the spaghetti and combine it with the sauce before serving or divide it amongst 4 plates and top it with the sauce. Add more fresh basil if desired.
- Makes 3 ½ cups of sauce.
- Nutritional information includes whole wheat spaghetti.
- If possible, use canned cherry tomatoes. They are better for a quick sauce as they take less time to break down than chopped tomatoes.
- If you add extra ingredients such as black olives or chickpeas, add them after mixing in the Balsamic vinegar.
- If you do not have Balsamic, use 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar with ½ of a teaspoon of date paste or another liquid sweetener.
Keywords: spaghetti arrabbiata