Feed your family a bowl of spicy deliciousness for 

Here Di Curtin shares her recipe for a dish that all the family will like - Penne Arrabiata with Avocado Slivers
Feed your family a bowl of spicy deliciousness for 

Penne Arrabiata with Avocado Slivers by Di Curtin.

I COOK a lot of pasta. It’s so easy to make a great meal when you have a few little favourites in the sauce stakes. Penne Arrabiata is one of those. If you like a bit of spice with your pasta sauce, you’ll love it too.

The name of this sauce literally means ‘angry’. That’s because of the chilli you add to the rich tomato base. Make your penne as ‘angry’ as you like, according to your own taste for spiciness.

Fresh chilli gives a nice bit of bite with zippy piquancy. If you use dried chilli, you need a lot less and I think dried chilli gives a more intense ‘mature’ flavour to the dish. It’s also convenient to keep a jar of crushed red chilli flakes in the cupboard for adding to any dish, if you want a bit of heat, so I’m using those this weekend.

Penne pasta is specially made for tomato based recipes because the holes in the tubes allow the sauce to run inside.

 This simple supper is also surprisingly adaptable, in that you can add almost anything to the basic recipe. The Italians would enjoy it as it comes, with the sauce stirred through the pasta and plenty of fresh Parmesan grated over. But you can get adventurous and add fresh raw prawn tails or chunks of chicken fillet if you want. Vegetarians can pop in some roasted aubergine and courgette chunks.

I’m topping my arrabiata with slivers of fresh ripe avocado, for a plant based nutrient boost and a cooling influence. 

Avocado with its smooth buttery texture works really well with the tomato sauce base.


Ingredients (Serves 4)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 

Pinch of dried red chilli flakes (to taste) 

1 tsp dried oregano 

750ml bottle Passata Rustica (chunky pasata) 

150mls vegetable stock 

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

350g penne pasta 

2 ripe ready to eat avocados 

Freshly grated Parmesan to finish 


  • For the sauce, heat oil in a pan and fry onion and garlic till soft but not browned.
  • Add chilli flakes and oregano and stir into the oily mix.
  • Pour in passata and stock, and bring to bubbling. Season.
  • Cover and simmer very gently for about 15 minutes, keeping a close eye to make sure it doesn’t become too thick. Add a bit more stock if so.
  • While sauce is simmering, cook pasta in lightly salted boiling water till just al dente.
  • Drain and shake the pasta, leaving some of the water still clinging to it but you don’t want it very wet.
  • Return to the pan and pour over the arrabiata sauce.
  • Stir to coat and drizzle in a little extra olive oil.
  • Check seasoning and spoon into warmed bowls.
  • Halve avocados and remove stones. Using a dessert spoon, scoop the flesh from each half of avocado and divide between bowls, laying on top of pasta.
  • Check seasoning and scatter with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Penne 400g pack €1.35 Passata Rustica 750mls €1.79

Dried Chilli pepper mill 20g €2.99 

Avocados x 2 pieces €2.50

Onions net €1.00

Garlic net €1.00

Total: €10.63


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