We’ve created four pasta dishes for TABLE readers inspired by Stanley Tucci’s television travel series Searching for Italy. This week we bring you Penne all’ Arrabbiata, a “pantry dish” perfect for last-minute entertaining or a late-night craving. We recommend that you enjoy this dish with a Rosato of Sangiovese, a pitch-perfect rosé from Toscana, or Bardolino, a delicate red that balances well with the heat of this version of the dish, which is made with Liokareas Chili Oil from a local Pittsburgh family.
As you prepare your dish, picture this: Imagine a young Pittsburgher arriving to start a job in Rome. He knows little Italian and has arrived completely unprepared for life outside the office. He steps into a mom-and-pop grocery shop hoping to find something edible and becomes an eyewitness to a conflagration of epic proportions.
The elderly proprietress is engaged in finger-pointing, chest-beating, top-of-the-lungs argument with a customer about whether one CAN or CANNOT eat penne all’arrabbiata at room temperature on a hot summer evening. The prim, pale rose housecoat of the lady behind the counter shakes with rage: NO! Absolutely not. It is incorrect. A sacrilege. The customer shifts the bags of wine and bread she’s bought at the neighboring bakery and enoteca so that she can signal her total dismissal of that prudish idea: NO! That is an old idea even for you. I’ve known you for 40 years and I didn’t think you were this old. Let’s hope the salami I need to buy from you is fresher. This provokes a laugh from the other customers, but it does not settle the argument, which continues at lower volume but not calmer emotion over the slicing, weighing, wrapping, and checking out. And into the street afterward.
The young fellow realizes he is in an entirely new place, where food is not a matter of tradition or convenience: it is religion, to be pursued with fervor and precision…even if it means that you have to defend what’s right. This is why Italian food is so good. It’s about commitment to what’s truly the best way to do things.
6 cloves of fresh garlic
1/3 c Liokareas Chili Oil
6 oz can of tomato paste
4 pints fresh cherry tomatoes
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 lb box penne rigate pasta
Crush and peel six large cloves of garlic. Tear them roughly into strips with your hands.
Put 1/3 cup Liokareas Chili Oil into a 6 qt pan over medium heat. Patiently sautee garlic until slightly golden brown. Remove garlic from oil and set aside.
Whisk 1 small can of tomato paste into the oil and stir on low heat for 5 minutes.
Roughly chop 4 pints of cherry tomatoes and add to pot.
Add 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper.
Stirring very regularly, cook tomatoes until liquid is reduced by 25% and tomatoes are tender.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temp.
In a food processor, puree the tomato mixture and return to heat. Put the garlic cloves back in the pot. Keep warm while you cook the pasta. Stir frequently.
Taste in case you need to add salt, black pepper, or Liokareas Chili Oil.
Cook a box of penne rigate until very al dente. Before draining, add 1/8 cup pasta water to the sauce pot.
Drain pasta and add to sauce pot with 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Turn heat to medium and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes until pasta is still al dente but tender enough to eat. Grated Romano cheese for the Penne all’ Arrabbiata is optional.
Recipe and Prop styling by Keith Recker/ Photography by Dave Bryce/ Food styling by Veda Sankaran/ Fabric by @foundandforagedfibres / Wine pairing by Adam Knoerzer