Sunday Pasta®: Farfalle all’Arrabbiata (Spicy Tomato Sauce)

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Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee. I’ve been waiting to use this quote for about a year, ever since seeing the Muhammad Ali biopic, even though, as far as I know, he has absolutely no connection to either butterfly-shaped pasta or spicy tomato sauce. Still, I think the word play is genius! (Yes, I am the Champ of Sunday Pasta.) All this too while knowing full well that penne is the preferred pasta choice for an arrabbiata sauce, which is as simple as tomato, garlic, and chili pepper, and eminates from Rome. So rope-a-dope me all you want, but I’ll still say that Farfalle all’Arrabbiata is the Greatest.  A real Thrilla in Manila (for your mouth). A real Rumble in the Jungle (for your belly). And to quote Muhammad, your face is so ugly that you should donate it to the US Wildlife Foundation…

Buon Appetito!
Ed Garrubbo

Check out our wine pairings to complement this dish!

Sunday Pasta®: Farfalle All’Arrabbiata

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4-6

Sunday Pasta®: Farfalle All’Arrabbiata


1 lb farfalle (or penne)
3 cloves of garlic
1 chili pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1 28 oz can of peeled Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped


Chop the garlic and chili pepper into small pieces. (The amount of chili you add is a matter of preference. You can substitute dried red pepper flakes if necessary.) In a large skillet, fry the garlic and pepper in the olive oil until golden. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Puree the tomatoes and add them to the garlic and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes over low heat. Add salt to taste.

Add salt to a large pot of boiling water. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain it, and add it to the tomatoes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

p.s. One would typically not sprinkle cheese on this dish, as it is thought to compete with the other flavors.


Edwin Garrubbo

Edwin Garrubbo

Ed Garrubbo has been studying, cooking, searching for, and thinking about la cucina italiana for as long as he can remember. He cooks a wide range of Italian dishes, but loves his pasta most. He visits restaurants, cooking schools, markets, and food artisans across Italy, and wherever Italians practice their craft. He is a member of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, and is a citizen of both the United States and Italy.

8 Responses to Sunday Pasta®: Farfalle all’Arrabbiata (Spicy Tomato Sauce)

  1. I’d never heard that “your face is so ugly” quote. Ali was an original. As is the Garrubbo Guide. Always a treat to get your great recipes.

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  2. Edwina says:

    What kind of chili does an Italian use? I’m guessing serrano but just curious. xx

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    • hi. in italian, they are called peperoncino — you’ve seen the thin red peppers strung together? in english, they’re called chili peppers, but there are several varieties, even in italy. you you can’t find them, substitute serrano or just used crushed red pepper flakes. Ed

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      • Elliott Hankin says:

        Pepperoni I is very common in the South especially in Calabria. If you go to an Italian importing store you can find these pepperoncini.

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  3. Andrea says:

    You and your Sunday Pasta recipes are The Greatest! In fact, thanks to you, I am making Farfalle for guests this weekend. But it’s with the Salmon Alla Vodka. Mama Mia, what a delicious sounding recipe. Can’t wait!

    And so, grazie, and praise be to Allah, for your wonderful humor and food.


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    • Elliott Hankin says:

      The BEST pasta in Italy comes from Abruzzi, Napoli and Puglia which is where I buy my dried pasta from

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  4. Rosalie Craven says:

    I have been saving your recipes since I found you. (abt 2 years) very few have been eliminatedand now I love all the extras you have added to your home page..Thank you for teaching and enjoying whay you make.Your are awesome..

    Thank you
    Warmest regards
    Rosalie Craven

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