This Spicy Tomato Pasta is a quick and easy meal perfect for busy weeknights.
The sauce is a beautiful rich tomato-based sauce with a spicy kick thanks to the red chilis. But you can adapt the spice level to taste.
With very few ingredients, you can have this spicy tomato pasta on the table in under 20 minutes. Add some bread and a side salad, and you have a quick and easy dinner.
This Spicy Tomato Pasta is a take on the classic Pasta Arrabbiata and is a quick spicy pasta that is perfect for chili lovers.
It is packed full of robust Italian flavors and is made with just a handful of ingredients. Garlic, tomatoes, and chili (dried or fresh) are simmer together while the pasta cooks.
Key ingredients in Spicy Tomato Pasta
- Tomatoes: Go for a mixture of fresh and crushed tomatoes to get a full tomato taste. (or substitute with an excellent quality canned chopped tomato)
- Garlic: Lots of it! Arrabbiata is a robust dish, and garlic is essential.
- Olive Oil: This is an essential flavor in the dish, so use your good stuff.
- Red Chili: You can use red pepper flakes (chilli flakes) or fresh red chili to give you the heat. And add as much or as little as you like.
- Pasta: Penne is traditional, but we love spaghetti.
- Pasta cooking water: A cup of the water the pasta cooked in gives this sauce more flavor and helps the simple sauce stick to your pasta! (I mention pasta cooking water in nearly every pasta recipe because it is an incredible free ingredient!!)
- Spinach: Fresh spinach leaves add nutrition and color to the finished pasta. You can use frozen spinach.
- Pangrattao: This is a traditional Italian topping made with breadcrumbs - see more on pangrattao below.
What is pangrattao?
Pangrattato is made by cooking breadcrumbs in a bit of butter or olive oil, adding some salt, and maybe some fresh herbs.
It adds salty depth to pasta dishes.
It is sometimes called poor mans parmesan. The idea is that the salty breadcrumbs from cheap, stale bread would replace the salty hit of expensive parmesan.
How to make Spicy Tomato Pasta
- Cook the pasta.
- While the pasta is cooking, saute the garlic and chili in plenty of olive oil.
- Add fresh tomatoes and crushed tomatoes to the garlic and simmer.
- Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta cooking water.
- Add the pasta and some cooking water to the sauce. Stir well to coat the pasta and allow it to finish cooking in the sauce.
- Add some fresh spinach leaves.
- Check the seasoning and serve.
What to serve with Spicy Tomato Pasta
This pasta is all about big, bold, spicy flavors, so we like a simple side salad and some bread.
But you could use the pasta as a side dish next to a steak or a juicy pork chop.
Spicy Tomato Pasta Wine Pairing
The spice in this pasta means you want to avoid wines high in tannins and instead go for softer fruiter wines. Also, avoid high alcohol content wines. White lovers grab a bottle of Verdicchio or try a Grenache rose. For those who love red wine, a Zinfandel or a Valpolicella would be great.
But my favorite combo is balancing the heat with a hint of sweetness and picking a good-quality Lambrusco. The bubbles make it fun, and the sweetness balances the chilies.
If you make this Spicy Tomato Pasta, don't forget to come back and comment. You can also tag me on social media.
Any questions about the recipe? Use the comments section below.
Spicy Tomato Pasta
For the Pasta
- 12 oz pasta
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic - sliced
- 1-2 red chilies - sliced - see note 1
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes - halved
- ½ cup crushed tomatoes or passata
- 1 cup fresh spinach - packed
For the Pangrattato (optional)
- 2 tablespoon butter/olive oil
- ¼ cup chunky breadcrumb/panko
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano/parsley - see note 2
- salt - to taste
- Place a large pan of water on to boil.
- While it is heating up, make the pangrattato
- Place the butter/olive oil in a cold frying pan, and add in the fresh herbs and breadcrumbs.
2 tablespoon butter
¼ cup chunky breadcrumb/panko
1 tablespoon fresh oregano/parsley
- Stir the mixture well and cook until the breadcrumbs are crispy and golden.
- Season generously with salt and pepper, and then immediately tip the pangrattato mixture into a small bowl to stop it from browning any further.
salt (to taste)
To make the pasta
- Once the water has come to a boil, add the salt and pasta. Stir to submerge the spaghetti and then cook for 1 minute less than the packet suggests. (Set your timer)
1 tablespoon salt
- While the pasta is cooking, pour the olive oil into a cold large frying pan and add the sliced garlic; cook over medium heat until the garlic starts to just sizzle.
¼ cup olive oil
6 sliced cloves garlic
- Add in the chopped red chili and the tomato halves. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the crushed tomatoes once sizzling.
1-2 chopped red chilies
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
½ cup crushed tomatoes/passata
- Bring to a simmer for 2 minutes, then turn the heat low until the pasta is cooked.
- Reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the frying pan and ½ cup of pasta water. Use tongs to turn and coat the pasta in the sauce. Add the fresh spinach and turn to wilt it in the sauce.
1 cup packed fresh spinach
- Add more water as needed.
- Check the seasoning, and serve garnished with the pangrattato and parmesan if desired.
- You can replace the chopped red chili with red pepper flakes or chilli flakes. Add to taste (1 teaspoon is about the same as 1 hot chili)
- You can replace the fresh herbs with 1 teaspoon of dried herbs.