Everyone needs a go-to recipe for the days when comfort-food cravings hit hard, but cooking sounds like a chore. This, proudly, is that recipe.

rigatoni arrabbiata in a bowl with fork

Low-Effort, High-Reward Rigatoni Arrabbiata

Glamorizing a few simple pantry ingredients, Rigatoni all’Arrabbiata (commonly referred to as Rigatoni Arrabbiata) is a low-effort, high-reward dish. Playfully oversized rigatoni is robed in silky sweet San Marzano tomatoes, packed with garlic, doubled-up on basil, and spiked with heat from a healthy heap of red pepper. Topped with ricotta and ribbons of fresh, licoricey basil, it hits the spot every single time. 

Because of its simplicity, it’s the perfect cure for late-night meals and time-crunched dinners. The prep work includes garlic chopping, anchovy smashing, and hand-crushing tomatoes (which is just as fun as it sounds), but everything else involves setting it and forgetting it. From start to finish the recipe takes a total of 45 minutes to an hour, and a good portion of that time is hands-off.  

This Rigatoni Arrabbiata recipe takes a few liberties in terms of the classic Arrabbiata sauce but is otherwise made up of basic pantry ingredients– whole San Marzano tomatoes, plenty of olive oil, and your new favorite staple: anchovies. This ingredient may seem intimidating or even exotic, but these fatty, oil-packed beauties are the recipe’s key. Because of their high-fat content, they absolutely melt into the sauce, so much so that you’d never know they were there if it weren’t for the layers of salty complexity they leave behind. This magical element transforms the dish, and soon you might find yourself looking for excuses to use these filets everywhere around the kitchen.  

Rigatoni Arrabbiata may seem humble, but its beautiful contrast in flavor proves that even the simplest ingredients can make something exceptional. From its sweetly acidic tomato base to its creamy, milky ricotta finish, it’s a delight all the way through. Pull out your pantry staples– it’s time to start cooking.  

Make Next: Pink Sauce Pasta

Rigatoni Arrabbiata

Katie Calton
Servings: 4 people
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Packed with basil, garlic, and crushed red pepper, this spicy Rigatoni Arrabbiata is deeply satisfying and so simple you can practically make it on auto-pilot.


  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup basil, plus extra for serving
  • 2 oil-packed anchovy filets
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 28 ounces whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt**
  • 1 lb. rigatoni
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • whole milk ricotta***


  • Prepare the ingredients for the arrabbiata sauce. Begin by thinly slicing each clove of garlic lengthwise. Chiffonade the basil by stacking each leaf, then tightly rolling it and positioning the roll horizontal on the cutting board. Run the knife through the basil, creating ribbons about ¼-inch thick. Next, finely mince the anchovy filet. Start by roughly chopping the filet, then add a small pinch of salt and continue chopping, mashing it with the side of the knife every so often until a paste forms. Add sliced garlic, basil, anchovy, and crushed red pepper flakes to a small bowl and set aside.
  • To a large, heavy-bottom skillet or dutch oven, add the olive oil and bring to temperature over medium-low heat. Once the oil is thin and just beginning to ripple, add the prepared garlic, basil, anchovies, and crushed red pepper flakes to the pan. The aromatics should slightly sizzle when they hit the pan, almost as if the oil is barely simmering. Sauté until the garlic is beginning to develop a golden color, about 8-10 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent any burning; if the oil is getting too hot, reduce the heat on the stove.
  • Once the aromatics finish sautéing, add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you pour them and their accompanying juices into the skillet. Add salt, stir to combine, then reduce the heat to low and allow to cook for 30-45 minutes or up to an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • When the sauce has about 20 minutes left, prepare the rigatoni. In a large pot, bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil, being sure to adequately salt the water (it should taste like the sea– don’t be shy!). Cook the pasta until very al dente, anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on your pasta. Reserve ½ cup pasta water and set aside. Strain the pasta, then add directly to the arrabbiata sauce. Increase the heat to high and add the pasta water. Toss the rigatoni with the sauce continuously for 2-4 minutes until the sauce adheres to the rigatoni and the pasta becomes a bit more tender. Remove from heat. Plate the rigatoni arrabbiata with a dollop of whole milk ricotta and extra basil and enjoy immediately.  


*We highly recommend using San Marzano tomatoes. They are less acidic than their counterparts and have just the right natural sweetness to balance the sauce. If they aren’t available, use regular canned whole-peeled tomatoes with 1 tablespoon tomato paste instead.  
**The majority of the recipes on Female Foodie have been developed using Diamond Crystal Kosher salt. If you don’t have this salt on hand we recommend using roughly half the amount if using sea salt or Morton kosher salt.
***Whole milk ricotta is richer and milkier than skim versions and pairs so beautifully with this dish. It is worth seeking out. If you can’t find whole milk ricotta, our recommendation is to omit it. 

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