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  • Writer's pictureIsabella Akshay

Penne all'Arrabbiata di Porcini (Penne with Mushroom Arrabbiata)

We all know and love the classic Arrabbiata sauce. But how about this interesting variation to the classic? Let me introduce you to my Penne with Mushroom Arrabbiata!

I was just having a conversation with my mother the other day and as it turns out, this version of arrabbiata sauce is the only version she's ever made!

Penne with Mushroom Arrabbiata is an evolution of the more famous classic. A more autumnal version due to the use of mushrooms which, though available all year round, are at their peak in this season.

I used porcini which are a fine (and not so easy to find here) variety of mushrooms, but you can of course swap them for literally any kind of mushroom, whichever are easy to find where you live. Some suggestions could be button, chanterelles, champignon or portobello. Shiitake might go well too, although they have a more intense flavour.

I love mushrooms and I think this variation on the classic dish is a great way to impress your guests next time, by just adding a little extra touch to a super simple dish.

What are Porcini Mushrooms?

Porcini - also known as penny bun mushrooms - are an edible variety of mushrooms that can be found fresh or dried (I used dried in this case as the fresh variety is hard to find in the UK).

They are characterised by an earthy, meaty flavour and used mainly in Italian cuisine. The best example would be in porcini risotto - a very classic Italian dish.

They can be found in the Northern Hemisphere across parts of Europe (particularly Italy), but also some parts of Asia and North America, growing in small clusters near trees in forests.

Porcini mushrooms add a hearty, woodsy flavour to just about any dish. Fresh mushrooms lose moisture when cooking, so be mindful if you are using them in this (or any) recipe and lower the heat as needed to keep them from sweating or browning.

On the other hand, if using dried porcini like I did, remember they must be soaked in water for 15-20 minutes before cooking or incorporated into a recipe, they can't be just added right away.

Where did the Arrabbiata name and dish originate from?

Arrabbiata literally means angry; in Romanesco dialect the adjective arrabbiato is also used to describe something (in this case spiciness) pushed to the excess.

The classic arrabbiata sauce, or sugo all'arrabbiata is a simple spicy sauce for pasta made from garlic, tomatoes, and dried red chillies cooked in olive oil.

The pasta used is usually penne - a cylinder-shaped pasta with ends cut at an angle, perfect for scooping up the sauce. You can, however, use any pasta you like for this recipe.

I used a specialty variety of penne flavoured with red chilli, for extra spiciness. But you can, of course, use regular penne instead.

Last but not least, this sauce is naturally vegan, but you can top with grated cheese - I used Sicilian pecorino, but parmigiano or grana will work well too.

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 200g dried penne (I used chilli flavoured penne but you can use regular penne instead)

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced

  • 400g tomato polpa (I use canned polpa by Mutti)

  • 1/3 cup dried porcini mushroom (or about 100g fresh mushrooms - you can replace porcini with button, chanterelles, champignon or portobello

  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes or 2 fresh red chillies, minced

  • A few fresh basil leaves

  • Salt to taste

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • Grated pecorino (or parmigiano or grana padano) cheese, optional


Heat the oil in a wide pan, adding the garlic and chilli and letting them sizzle, but being careful not to let them burn.

Next, add the tomatoes, basil, and season with salt and sugar. Thin the sauce with 1/3 glass water, and simmer, covered for about 15 minutes.

Place the dried porcini in a small bowl, covering with hot water to rehydrate them for about 15 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and throw in the pasta, cooking it according to package instructions.

Stir the sauce frequently, until the oil starts to separate. Squeeze the liquid out of the porcini and add them to the sauce.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the penne straight into the sauce, turn off the heat and mix well. Serve, optionally, topped with grated cheese,

Buon appetito!

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