Pasta Dinner for One - Penne Arrabiata

I've been making some version of this recipe for the best part of a decade. It;s originally based on a recipe from the absolute bible of Italian cooking that is The Silver Spoon. It's extremely simple but is open to variations - fry some fennel seeds with the garlic, stir in some olives or chicken, top with cheese and breadcrumbs for a bake, there are so many options. Because it's based on such a small number of store cupboard ingredients, quality makes a pretty big difference. I highly recommend getting an extra virgin olive oil you really enjoy the flavour of and a bronze die pasta. It also comes together very quickly, the sauce taking less time to make than the pasta takes to boil.

Penne Arrabiata

Serves 1


100-120g dry pasta of choice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 large or 2 smaller garlic cloves, peeled and lightly squashed with the flat of a knife

1-2 birds eye hot peppers or other small chillies

½ cup passata (Italian blended tomatoes)

A pinch of sugar (optional)



  1. Cook the pasta in heavily salted water according to package instructions.

  2. While the pasta cooks, heat two thirds of the oil in a pan over medium low heat.

  3. Add the garlic and peppers to the pan and cook until softened. Do not brown the garlic.

  4. Remove the garlic from the oil and pour in the passata.

  5. Cook until slightly reduced, then taste and add sugar and salt if required.

  6. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it, reserving 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid.

  7. Stir the pasta and cooking liquid into the sauce and heat until the sauce is thickly coating the pasta.

  8. Remove from the heat, stir in the rest of the oil, then serve.



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