Arrabiata Sauce is one of my favorite sauces and I use it for pasta especially Penne and for many other dishes. It is healthy, full of texture and color and easy to prepare. The one thing that makes it distinctly different from other tomato based red sauces is the chili factor. The crushed red chili flakes or the fresh ones that are added whole or chopped give life to the classic marinara sauce that is the base sauce for Arrabiata.
Also a good amount of olive oil works best for the sauce. Cooked or heat processed tomatoes contain more lycopene, because cooking helps to release lycopene from the tomato cells. Lycopene is fat soluble, so it helps to cook it in oil, such as olive oil. Presence of peperoncino (chili flakes) gives it a defining characteristic (and a lively kick). I add basil and coriander to enhance the taste.
The main ingredients for Arrabiata are tomatoes and garlic. Those who love garlic like I do can use it as a main flavor in this recipe. I use fresh ripe plum tomatoes to make the Concasse for this sauce. Canned tomatoes aren’t something I use at home.
Arrabiata sauce goes very well with Indian cottage cheese or Paneer and we all love it. I am not a big fan of paneer but I do love a few dishes made with it. This is one of them. I also make the same dish in classic marinara or just the concasse with lots of fresh green chilies added with an Indian twist to the seasoning.
The basic ingredients for the Arrabiata sauce I make for this particular dish are :
Tomato Concasse – 400 gm approx
Garlic- medium size 8-10 pods ( peeled and finely chopped)
Red Onions – 2 medium, finely chopped
Fresh coriander greens (with tender stems) – 5 table-spoon ( finely chopped)
Crushed red pepper flakes – 1 teaspoon or fresh red pepper -2-3
Olive oil – 2-3 table-spoon
Black Pepper – freshly crushed 1 tea-spoon
Cumin Seeds – 1 teaspoon
Salt – to taste
Tomato sauce – 6 tablespoons
Dried Bay Leaves – 2
Fresh Basil Leaves – 3-4
Salt – to taste
Indian Cottage Cheese/ Farmer cheese / (Paneer) – 400 gm ( preferably home made but you can use market bought too.) Chopped in cubes and placed in warm saline water
Warm the olive oil or any other vegetable oil / butter in a thick bottom pan.
Add the cumin seeds and bay leaves. Once the cumin begins to crackle, add garlic and roast a little till it changes color slightly. Add whole / chopped red pepper or chili flakes to perfume the oil. Keep the flame low so as not to burn anything.
Add the chopped onion and stir. Cook until onion softens.
Add the tomato concasse ( canned tomatoes/ store bought concasse) and give it a nice stir. Let it simmer on low medium heat as you stir occasionally with a wooden spatula or spoon. Let it cook on low heat for 30 minutes or till it reaches your desired consistency. I keep it thick gravy like. Add basil leaves and fresh chopped coriander. Give it a stir.
Add salt, tomato sauce and freshly crushed black pepper. ( Be careful of the heat threshold )
Taste the sauce and add anything you feel is lacking.
Once the Arrabiata sauce is ready add the cubes of paneer ( Indian Cottage Cheese) in it and stir gently to cover the cubes uniformly in sauce. Let it cook for ten more minutes. Add warm water if the sauce is too thick. If it looks thin simmer a bit more.
Serve hot with sourdough breads, garlic breads, phulka or paratha. I sometimes just eat a bowlful of it on its own.
(I had posted an earlier version of this dish in 2010 that I have removed)