Arrabiata literally translated means angry… 😀 When used to identify a sauce, it means spicy. My Pantry Pasta Arrabiata is my embellished version of the classic Italian Arrabiata sauce. The heat comes from the use of crushed red pepper. It is very versatile, and I make it with ingredients always found in my well-stocked pantry; I may vary the cured meat (prosciutto, pancetta, chorizo, capicolla) and the combination of herbs (basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme).
From time to time, I am asked the question “how do you find the time to cook nearly every day of the week?” I love to answer this question 🙂 The answer is breathtakingly simple. Preparation.
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
~~ Abraham Lincoln
The key to creative and efficient cooking on a frequent and regular basis lies in a well-stocked pantry. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to determining what goes into your “well-stocked” pantry. Rather, you need to evaluate what you and your family love to eat, and plan accordingly. For example, my family loves all kinds of nuts, and we appreciate their nutritional value (ie. protein and good fats.) I keep several varieties of nuts on hand… pinions, slivered, sliced, and whole almonds, walnuts, and pecans. If your family doesn’t care for nuts, or allergies are a problem, they don’t go on your list.
Take this idea a step further. You currently are not cooking healthy and exciting food but you would like to. Think about what you’d like to begin incorporating into your diet and menu planning. Take a look at websites like cookinglight.com, myrecipes.com, and eatingwell.com for inspiration. MyRecipes is a “go to” website for me as it features healthy recipes from many sources that can be made in “less than 45 minutes.” The website includes a “what’s in your pantry” tool, and even a “nutrition search” that allows the user to search for recipes that meet specific nutritional criteria.
I cannot begin to cover this important topic in one blog post. I can, however, give you an idea of how I benefit from my own “well-stocked” pantry. Mediterranean cooking – Italian, Greek, Spanish – is both healthy and delicious, and a favorite in the Andersen household. Mediterranean food is typically fairly simple and focuses on good quality ingredients. That means my pantry will include olive oil, several bulbs of garlic, minced garlic (a great time-saver,) good quality Italian diced tomatoes (I love Cento and Pomi,) kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, capers, onions (red and yellow,) shallots, a chunk of prosciutto or pancetta (in the fridge,) pasta (I prefer Barilla Plus because it provides protein with each serving,) an assortment of hard cheeses (pecorino romano, parmesan, asiago,) sun-dried tomatoes, crushed red pepper, etc.
Because I keep these items on hand, I have a “go to” meal if I’ve neglected to plan menus for the week. We jokingly refer to this dish as “pantry pasta!” It may not look or taste the same twice, but it is always delicious and healthy. This dish can be prepared in under 30 minutes if you focus. I prefer to listen to my Bruce Hornsby station on Pandora and sip a glass of wine, so it takes me closer to an hour 🙂
Start by setting out all of your ingredients. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Add the salt now, lest you forget… You will need a large sauté pan and a cutting board to complete the dish. Pair the pasta with a simple green salad and a glass of chianti. Get my My Pantry Checklist. More on the well-stocked pantry later…
Pantry Pasta Arrabiata
- 1-2 tbsp . extra virgin olive oil don't use your "fancy" imported stuff!
- 4 ounces pancetta go for the "good" stuff here!, prosciutto, hard salami, or ham cubed
- 1 small onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or 1 fresno chile, minced
- 1/2 cup quartered artichoke hearts
- 2 tbsp . kalamata olives sliced
- 2 cups good quality diced tomatoes or 1 can
- 1/4 cup red wine or pasta water
- 1 tbsp . fresh herbs oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, or a combination, finely chopped
- salt/pepper to taste
- 8 oz . thin spaghetti or angel hair I prefer Barilla Plus for its added protein
- Hard cheese for grating parmesan, pecorino romano, asiago
- Fill a large stock pot with water. Add 2 tsp. salt. Turn heat to high.
- While the water is heating,add the olive oil to your saute pan, and bring to medium-high heat. Add the cubed meat, onion (or shallot,) and garlic. Let it sizzle for several minutes, until the onion is translucent, and the meat begins to render its fat. This process will take about 5-6 minutes, depending on heat level.
- When it smells amazing, the onions are translucent and soft, and the meat is beginning to brown, add the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, and wine (if using.) Cover. Stir occasionally.
- At this point, the pasta water should be boiling. Cook your pasta to al dente - according to the package directions.
- Add the fresh herb(s) to the sauce. Stir thoroughly.
- Before removing the pasta pot to drain, check the sauce. If it's too thick, add pasta water to thin it a bit. Drain the pasta, and return to the pan.
- Check the sauce for seasoning (cured meat is salty, and it may not need additional salt.)
- Add the sauce to the pot. Give it a good toss with a pasta fork.
- Serve in shallow bowls with freshly grated cheese!
Mediterranean cooking is simple, and shines when the best quality ingredients are used. Use the best you can afford! Pomi tomatoes - diced - in a carton are a really good choice if you want to spend the money.
Fresno chile is a wonderful way to achieve the bit of heat in this recipe. It's a small red chile - about the size of a jalapeno.
I keep a 1.5 litre jug of extra virgin olive oil which I purchase at Sam's Club. I use it for cooking because it is more economical. I collect imported olive oils, but reserve them for salad dressings, bruschetta, dipping, etc.
Shallots may be used in place of the onion and garlic.
I am a "stickler" for portion sizes. I use 2 ounces of pasta per person.
Feel free to use capers, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, etc. Make sure to keep in mind whether they need cooking or not, and add them accordingly. For example, if your sun-dried tomatoes are packed in oil rather than dry, you may add them with the diced tomatoes and wine. If using dried sun-dried tomatoes, you must re-hydrate them first.
Macronutrients (approximate from MyFitnessPal): Calories 499 Protein 22 g Fat 21 g Carbs 54 g