One-Pot Penne all’Arrabbiata with Greens

updated Oct 16, 2020
One-Pot Penne All'arrabbiata with Greens

This twist on the classic Italian pasta comes together easily in one pot and features wilted spinach for a feel-good hit of green.

Serves4 to 6

Prep10 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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One pot penne all'arrabbiata in Dutch oven on countertop.
Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

This fiery recipe is a one-pot twist on the Italian pantry staple pasta called penne all’arrabbiata. Apparently native to the Lazio region (its exact origins are unclear), penne all’arrabbiata gets its name from the generous amount of chile peppers used, as arrabbiata translates to “angry” in Italian. In addition to the chile, the dish often involves garlic, a tomato sauce that clings to the noodles, and sometimes a garnish of parsley.

This version, while not traditional, incorporates all of these essentials as well as some of our own favorite additions, including salty, savory anchovies and plenty of leafy greens. Plus, the pasta cooks directly in the spicy sauce (our favorite kitchen magic trick), so it’s sure to win you over with its depth of flavor and ease of cooking.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Why Anchovies Are My Pasta Sauce Secret Weapon

While you might be worried that anchovies will give a strong, fishy taste to this dish, they mostly cook off, leaving an irresistible richness to the sauce. There’s no need to chop them — simply pat them dry to remove any excess oil (which will also remove more of the anchovy flavor), and let them dissolve in the pan. As they cook, they’ll melt into the olive oil alongside garlic and red pepper flakes, creating an unbelievably flavorful base for the sauce in a short amount of time. You can also use half the amount called for if you’re hesitant about adding them.

If you’re truly anchovy-averse, you can add a splash of fish sauce when you add the tomatoes, or toss in old Parmigiano-Reggiano rind to impart the same depth of flavor (just remove it before serving).

One-Pot Penne All'arrabbiata with Greens

This twist on the classic Italian pasta comes together easily in one pot and features wilted spinach for a feel-good hit of green.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 (2-ounce) can

    anchovies in oil

  • 1/4 cup

    grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

  • 1/4 cup

    fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil leaves

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon

    tablespoon red pepper flakes

  • 1/4 cup

    tomato paste, preferably double concentrated

  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    crushed tomatoes

  • 2 1/2 cups

    water

  • 1 pound

    dried penne pasta, preferably with ridges

  • 3 packed cups

    baby spinach (about 3 ounces)

  • Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice 2 garlic cloves. Drain the oil from 1 (2-ounce) can anchovies. Grate until you have 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese. Coarsely chop 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil leaves.

  2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or straight-sided skillet or frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, anchovies, and 1/2 to 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, depending on your heat preference. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking apart the anchovies, until fragrant but before the garlic browns, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup tomato paste and stir constantly until it becomes a deep red color, about 2 minutes.

  3. Add 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes and 2 1/2 cups water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in 1 pound penne pasta and adjust the heat to maintain an active simmer (bubbles breaking across the surface of the liquid). Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente (about 2 minutes less than the package instructions), about 9 minutes total. If the pasta is undercooked at this point, add 2 tablespoons water at a time until done.

  4. Reduce the heat to low. Stir in 3 packed cups baby spinach a handful at a time until wilted. Taste and season with salt as needed (likely only a tiny amount and remember that you’re adding salty cheese soon). Garnish with the cheese and herbs.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 4 days.

Spinach substitutions: Broccoli rabe, kale, or arugula can be used instead of spinach. Chop the broccoli rabe and kale, and add to the pan a few minutes before the pasta is done. Add the arugula after the pasta is done off the heat.

Pasta shape: If you can find it, try to use a pasta with ridges, often written as rigate on the box, as the little ridges capture the sauce so you get a bit more flavor in each bite.