This hearty pasta sauce is a robust variation of the classic Italian Penne all'arrabbiata, a spicy Roman sauce of garlic, tomatoes, basil and red chiles cooked in olive oil. Penne Arrabbiata literally translates as angry pasta due to the abundance of chile peppers, but I also like to add chopped onions, hot Italian sausages, peppers and crushed fennel seeds which makes the sauce even angrier. Traditionally, penne rigate is used for this dish, which are small, ridged tubes of pasta cut diagonally at the ends, but ziti also works just as well. Quick and easy to make, this full flavoured Penne Arrabbiata with Italian Sausage, Peppers and Basil is delicious with a traditional grating of pecorino, but is also quite fabulous with fresh ricotta and a little lemon zest.
Penne with Italian Sausage, Peppers & Basil
2 lb Penne Rigate or ziti
2 lb hot Italian sausage
3 tbsp olive oil
3 sweet red bell peppers, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1 cup red wine
1 cup of water
4 cups homemade or good quality tomato sauce
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red chiles, crushed
salt and pepper
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Ricotta
thyme sprigs or lemon zest for garnish, optional
Pierce the sausages all over with the tines of a fork and place in a large pot with 1/2-inch of water and simmer over medium heat, for about 20 minutes. Eventually the water will run dry and the sausages will begin to fry in their own fat. Turn them occasionally and cook for another 10 minutes, or until they're well browned. Remove them from the pot and drain on paper towel.
Pour the fat out of the pot, then set over low heat. Add the olive oil and onions and cook, covered, for 25 minutes. Add the peppers and raise the heat to medium, and cook uncovered for 5 more minutes, stirring often.
Add the wine, tomato sauce, water, oregano and season with salt, pepper and red chiles to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the sausages into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Once the sauce has simmered 30 minutes, add the sausages and fennel seeds and simmer, uncovered for another 20 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, bring water to boil in a large pot. Add salt and add the penne rigate or ziti, and cook until tender but firm. Drain and set aside.
Add the basil and chopped garlic to the sauce and simmer another 5 minutes. Serve immediately over the hot pasta and garnish with fresh grated pecorino or ricotta, and garnish with sprigs of thyme.