Saturday, January 21, 2012

Holiday Arrabbiata

Well hello there! It's been a long time! My pots and pans are lonely and my gas bill's been a bit lower from using my stove less. Life has been a bit crazy right now, so cooking's taken the back burner (ha ha, bad pun!). Additionally, I am still backlogged from holiday recipes, so before I ramble on further, I present Holiday Arrabiata:

Because we knew we'd eat our body weight in Latkes on Christmas morning, we wanted a fairly light, no-fuss, Christmas meal, so we came across this recipe in the America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook. Also, before I forget, I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, and many thanks to Emma of Souperior for hosting this week's round-up!

The important thing with this recipe, is that it's so simple, that it's easy to mess up and make a lackluster sauce. There are so few ingredients, that there's no way to hide the fact that you used the wilted parsley hiding in the crisper bin, or the dregs of the red wine that's been sitting around for a while. Use the best ingredients that you realistically can, and your palate will do a happy little dance of joy.

Holiday Arrabbiata (serves 4-6)
  • 2 28-oz cans whole tomatoes, undrained (I used San Marzano)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/3 C dry red wine (I used Red Zin)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb spaghetti or similar (I used DeCecco fedelini)
  • 1/4 C minced parsley
1. Reserve 3/4 C of the tomato juice--save all additional juice and tomatoes
2. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat, do not allow to burn. Add the onion, and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 9 mins. Add garlic, oregano, and crushed red pepper, and stir for 30 secs.
3. Add all of the tomatoes and juice--except the reserved 3/4 C--and cook, stirring often, until the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes begin to stick, about 20 mins.
4. Add the wine, and cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 1 min. Stir in the reserved juice, and scrape the pan to incorporate any caramelized bits. 
5. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally, about 10 mins.
6. Turn off heat. When slightly cooled, transfer to a food processor. Pulse until smoothed to desired consistency. Season with salt, pepper and sugar as desired. 
7. Meanwhile, begin boiling water and 1 tsp salt for pasta. Add pasta and cook to al dente, reserving 1/2 C pasta cooking liquid. Drain the pasta
8. Add the parsley to the sauce. Add the sauce, remaining Tbsp olive oil and a bit of the pasta water to the pasta and coat, adding more pasta liquid if required. 

Kitchen Notes: The original recipe recommends cooking the tomatoes "til they stick" for 8-10 mins, however, it required 20 mins on my stove. This could be because I goofed the original instructions which called for reserving more juice til later. I've written my instructions the way I executed the recipe, but feel free to look up the original to get the exact precision of ATK. Salting the pasta water is important here. I was enjoying this sauce so much that I made a second batch. I didn't serve it all at once, and the first serving was a bit flat--I didn't salt the water. The second serving, in which the water was salted, had a lot more zing.

Verdict? I was really happy with the simplicity of this dish and I felt like I was indulging without a heavy meal. America's Test Kitchen Rarely steers me the wrong way, and I'll be making this (and modifying this!) again and again.



  1. Nothing like arrabbiata for an easy and delicious meal. It's almost a sin as to how easy! Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

    1. Thanks, Ruth! I look forward to this week's roundup! :)