Penne All-a- what?

So this recipe is probably the second recipe I ever mastered from scratch in my trusty home-ec class at the age of twelve. However, I still haven’t managed to say the name correctly – Penne (easy part) All’Arrabiata. Bit of a tongue twister.

Perhaps now you’re rolling your eyes at this super simple recipe that is often associated with pasta and ketchup. But no. If done correctly, this is as delicious and cost-effective as it gets.

I used to make it with bacon and cook it up when I was feeling under the weather or straight up hungover, labeling it as a cheat and treat meal. But now, with some persistence, I have moved it into the healthy-ish category. Hooray!

I had tried adding vegetables but the real beast was the bacon so I removed that, (exceptions when hungover) and went down the less Americanized, more traditional, original Italian root (due to a friend literally telling me how to do it properly).

Penne All’Arrabiata is traditional and simple, spicy and filling, cheap and easy and ticks all my boxes.

Time Needed: 20-30minutes.

Serves: 2-4, depending on hunger levels and if you have garlic bread, etc to bulk it out.


300-400g of Penne Pasta (wholewheat preferable) – roughly 40cent for this amount. Bear in mind that in one sitting I am known to eat at least 200g of pasta, but 100g is the recommended amount so if you’re not a big eater, and you don’t want leftovers, stick to that guideline.

1x Cartoon of Tomato Frito/Passata (425g) – A pack of 3 is 1 euro, so 33cent each give or take. You can use tinned tomatoes, but the passata consistency is favourable. Also, plummed tomatoes do the trick, make sure to mash them up before using them.

200-250g of Cherry Tomatoes – I usually get a packet of these in Lidl or my corner shop for €1, at most.

2 or more Tablespoons of Olive Oil – Price n/a.

1 or 2 Fresh Chillies – usually I get a bundle of these from my corner shop for 1.50 or 2 euro and keep them in my freezer, so I’m guessing about 20cent a chilli maximum. Or you can use chilli flakes – I like to use both.

3 or 4 cloves of Garlic – you can use less if you aren’t a massive fan like me. The price of this should be minimal, and you should always have it in your cupboard!

A bunch of Basil – My absolute favourite herb. Unfortunately, a pack of basil can cost over €1.50, which isn’t ideal considering I always use the whole packet for one dish, or else it goes off. I have bought basil plants (only about €1) on multiple occasions and attempted to sustain them to rid me of my basil buying blues, but alas I have no idea how to keep them alive (if anyone has some tips about the process that I’m missing, let me know!) Basil is fundamental for this dish, in my opinion, I rarely cook it without it.

Today, I bought a sprout bag of Basil from Tiger (which costs €3) so I will let you know how that goes. But with my track record, I think it will be over-priced packaged basil for me, for the near future.

50g of Parmesan – only for decoration but I like to use a lot so you wouldn’t need any more than this amount, even a touch of it will do. I get a block of parmesan in Lidl for about €2.70 and I use ¼ of it here so that’s 70 or 80cent for this dish.

Total Cost: To make a big amount of this delicious dish it should cost you no more than €4.50.


  1. Boil your decided amount of pasta.
  2. Chop or crush the garlic, and chop some fresh chillies.
  3. Pour olive oil into a pot (a pan is fine but a pot is easier – that way you can pour your pasta into this one instead of really dirtying both items!).
  4. When the oil is hot, add your garlic and chillies and let them cook until soft and add mixed herb flakes here if you have them.
  5. While that’s cooking, chop cherry tomatoes in half.
  6. Chop basil.
  7. When the garlic and chilli are nicely mixed and soft (but not burnt, ideally!) add in the cherry tomatoes and cook until they are hot and oozing slightly. Make sure to stir and if it’s sticking too much, add some more oil
  8. Add in a carton of passata/tomato Frito/plummed tomatoes and stir.
  9. Mix in some seasoning, chilli flakes and about half the chopped basil.
  10. Turn down to simmer.
  11. When pasta is cooked, drain it and add a little olive oil and salt and pepper if you like, while the tomato mixture cooks.
  12. Cook tomato sauce for ideally 15 minutes, but it can handle more or less. If you don’t find it spicy enough add more chilli flakes.
  13. When the tomato sauce tastes good, mix in pasta and rest of basil until combined nicely.
  14. Serve and sprinkle (or smother) with parmesan cheese. Finito!
Ready to eat!
Too much cheese?



  1. The shop-bought basil doesn’t tend to stay alive very long as it is basically a load of seedlings grown in a tiny pot, much closer together than they really need to be for long term growth. If you have a sunny windowsill you can grow your own, start a few seeds off in a container then prick them out 1 plant per pot. Pinch out the top growth to make them more bushy. On warm days take the plants outside if you can, this helps prevent pest problems.


    1. That makes sense, thanks for the tip! I do have a sunny windowsill perfect for that so I will buy some seeds and give it a go. Thank you!


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