Thursday, January 19, 2017

I Can Make That Too: Penne Arrabbiato in Mom’s Kitchen vs. the Restaurant Version

Eatalia Cafe's Penne Arrabbiato
The word “arrabbiato” is Italian for “angry.”  In food terms that’s code for “very spicy” or “as spicy as you can stand it.”  I prefer medium-spicy, with a glass of water standing by just in case.

The secret of Arrabbiato is red pepper flakes.  It’s surprising how much heat can come from just a few flakes added to the tomato sauce while it’s still cooking.

My version of Penne Arrabbiato often includes mushrooms and strips of salami.  Sometimes I’ll add some scraps of leftover chicken.  But I’m also fond of the version found at Eatalian Café in Gardena, California.  It’s more basic—just tomato sauce, spices, parsley and noodles.
Mom's Penne Arrabiata
Penne Arrabbiata – serves 4 
1 15 1/2 –ounce can ready-cut tomatoes 
1 teaspoon soy sauce 
1 teaspoon chopped garlic 
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like very spicy food) 
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms 
8 thin slices Italian dry salami, cut into 1/2-inch thick strips 
1 1/2-cups uncooked penne 
1/2 cup chopped parsley 
Grated Parmesan cheese, if desired 
Half-fill a large pot with water, cover and begin heating over high heat.  Meanwhile, make the sauce. 
Put the tomatoes and their liquid, soy sauce, garlic, black pepper and red pepper flakes in a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add the mushrooms and salami and turn down the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until the tomato mixture thickens.  Stir occasionally to make sure the mixture does not get so thick that it sticks to the bottom of the pan.  Add 1/4 cup water if it gets too thick.  Turn off the heat, cover and set aside. 
When the water comes to a boil, add the penne and set the timer according to the directions on the penne package.  When the timer rings, taste a noodle.  If it’s too chewy, cook for another minute.  Drain the noodles in a colander, shaking the colander to make sure all the water drains. 
Transfer the noodles to a serving bowl or platter.  Pour the sauce on top and sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan cheese, if using.  Serve family-style.