Recipe: Accidental Arrabbiatta Pasta

This is the pasta I made for dinner while staying with R in Bergen.  It was actually really lovely, just a lot spicier than I intended so it seemed worth recording.  Alas, I have no photographs of this recipe, but I figure that anyone reading this blog is probably getting more than enough photos at present, what with farmers’ markets and endless Travel Diary posts, so I hope you can survive without.

What makes this sauce good, in my view, is the combination of cooked tomatoes and fresh, uncooked tomatoes.  I was aiming for an even brighter combination with some sun dried tomato paste as well, but the tomato paste turned out to be chillis in disguise (yes, I probably should have noticed this, but I was so excited to be in a kitchen.  And the bottle wasn’t labelled.  And I cook by smell, not taste…), so if you don’t like spicy sauces, give that a try instead.  It will taste fantastic either way.


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olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp dried oregano
7 big tomatoes, preferably all in different colours
300g assorted cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp preserved chopped chilli in oil (it’s not quite a paste, and not chunks in oil, either – but it’s very, very finely chopped chilli and there is definitely olive oil. You will know it when you see it)
1 tin chickpeas
350 g penne pasta
parmesan, to serve

Now what will you do with it?

Chop the garlic finely, and the big tomatoes coarsely.  Sauté them in the olive oil until the tomatoes are soft, then add chilli and oregano and let simmer.

Get the water going for pasta, and use the time while it is coming to the boil to let the tomato sauce get to know itself.  Add the chickpeas to the sauce when the pasta is nearly ready.

Quarter or halve the cherry tomatoes, and have them ready to go.

When the water reaches the boil, add the pasta, and give it a quick stir so that it doesn’t stick.  As soon as you’ve done that, add the cherry tomatoes to the sauce.  The goal is to have tomatoes at different cooking stages in the final product, so don’t raise the heat or aim to get the cherry tomatoes cooked down, you just want them nice and warm or even hot, but still basically raw.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add to the sauce.  Toss everything together and serve with parmesan at the table.  I served this with a zucchini, herb and ricotta salad from Diana Henry’s excellent Cook Simple cookbook, but any good salad would do.

Serves 3 people.



This recipe can easily be gluten-free with the right pasta, as well as vegan if you don’t use parmesan (and really, this is very optional, though I’d add a little salt to the sauce if this is your plan).  The chickpeas make it reasonably low GI, and of course it is nut free.  In terms of FODMAPs, the garlic is a minor problem but the chickpeas will probably make it a major one.  You could omit them, but this makes it a much less complete meal.  If you aren’t vegetarian, adding anchovies or pancetta instead would probably be rather authentic.

Other things you could add to make this sauce more awesome might be capers, toasted pine-nuts (instead of parmesan at the end), roasted capsicums (because why not?), or little balls of baby bocconcini at the very end to melt into everything.  The bocconcini would also calm down the spices a bit.

It’s pretty yummy as is, however.


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