Ethnic Food/ Pasta/ Recipes

Spaghetti All’Arrabiata


I ate a LOT of pasta in Ethiopia.

Why, you ask? When I was there, I learned that the Italians actually occupied Ethiopia for a time in the late 1930’s and though it was brief, it definitely left a strong cultural mark on the country…aka really great pasta and pizza. This summer I’ve gotten the privilege to do a bunch of traveling and I have to say, the two best pasta dishes that I’ve had in a looooong time were found in Switzerland and Ethiopia.

We ate our last lunch in Ethiopia at a hotel {not our hotel} and I ordered the spaghetti all’arrabiata, a spicy red sauce made solely from tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and chili peppers. Now y’all know how much I love my spicy food and this pasta did not disappoint. It was all I could do not to practically lick my plate clean! When I got home last week, remaking it was one of the first things on my list.

This pasta is cheap, fast and delicious. If you like spice, you’re in the right place!


And when I say fast, I mean fast! The dish came together in literally less than 20 minutes, start to finish. It’s the perfect fast weeknight meal when you feel like you have nothing in your kitchen!


Next time I’m going to add some sauteed shrimp to this pasta, or maybe some calamari rings. It’s great on it’s own though — don’t forget a thick slice of garlic bread on the side! Ahhh, comfort food at it’s finest.

Hope y’all have a great weekend! We are off to Austin today to visit with our best friends who just had a baby. I can’t wait to meet my new little godson and soak up some of that heat you southerners have been having lately. It will be a nice change of pace from foggy, cold San Francisco.


Spaghetti All’Arrabiata

serves 4

Print this Recipe!


8 oz dry spaghetti

2 tbsp olive oil

1 28-oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes with basil

3 tbsp tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

fresh ground pepper


Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water. Drain and set aside.

Place the whole peeled plum tomatoes in a blender and process until smooth.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. When hot, add the garlic. Saute 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Saute 2 minutes then pour in the plum tomatoes. Mix well until everything has combined. Add sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add cooked spaghetti to sauce and toss to coat. Add a big glug of olive oil and any other seasonings to taste. Serve immediately.


20 minutes



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  • Kristi
    August 23, 2013 at 4:14 am

    This recipe looks so simple and delicious!

  • Madison
    August 23, 2013 at 4:16 am

    I love spicy food and simple pastas: so this looks right up my alley! 🙂

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    August 23, 2013 at 4:39 am

    Oh my gosh, I need to make this sauce!!! I love spicy food too, and it sounds super easy to make. Have fun in Austin!

  • Jenn from Much to My Delight
    August 23, 2013 at 4:41 am

    I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of anyone wanting to trade San Francisco weather for Texas weather! You really are a true Texas gal!! (Noted also by your love for spice:).

  • Lauren @ The Highlands Life
    August 23, 2013 at 5:00 am

    Give me a hunk of garlic bread and a glass of red wine and call it a day. Yum.

  • Tieghan
    August 23, 2013 at 5:04 am

    This is my kind of pasta sauce! I love anything with some heat to heat and typically traditional past sauce is a little boring for me, but this looks and sounds perfect!

  • Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
    August 23, 2013 at 6:52 am

    I never knew that the Italians had cultural influence on Ethiopa’s food but I’d say that’s a pretty awesome thing. I love Italian food and this pasta looks so simple and satisfying.
    Have a safe trip to Austin! It’s my favorite city in Texas. (Shhh…don’t tell College Station.) 😉

  • Lisa
    August 23, 2013 at 7:29 am

    My Mum always added bacon to her Spaghetti All´Arrabiata and so do I – soooo good!

  • Joelle (on a pink typewriter)
    August 23, 2013 at 7:43 am

    YUM! This sings straight to my little Italian heart. 🙂

    PS. I’m coming to Santa Rosa this wkend for a half marathon! Any recommendations on places to drink a lot of wine on Sunday, or to get breakfast for dinner (my pre-race meal of choice is pancakes)?

  • Bryony @ Friday Night Dinners -- PDX
    August 23, 2013 at 7:48 am

    This sounds amazing! I’m in need of some quick easy dinners so I’ll definitely be making this.

  • char eats greens
    August 23, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Looks SO good!!

  • nora
    August 23, 2013 at 9:15 am

    That is my favorite type of spaghetti sauce. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Cookbook Queen
    August 23, 2013 at 9:22 am

    So funny the way you’d never expect to eat spaghetti in Ethiopia. Just shows how much we have to learn. This look absolutely fabulous!!

  • Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks
    August 23, 2013 at 9:22 am

    We’ve been kicking up the spice level around here too — I’ve been having a lot of fun playing with Korean gochuchang paste as a marinade for chicken. Try it out if you like a good kick!

  • Jillienne @ ChasingRaspberries
    August 23, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I love spicy spaghetti! This recipe is right up my alley! Yum!

  • Caroline L.
    August 23, 2013 at 10:05 am

    That’s so interesting – I never would have guessed that Ethiopia would be the place to go for some quality Italian food! But good to know for future reference 🙂

  • Liz
    August 23, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Funny you mention Arrabbiata because I just recently discovered a jarred version (first time I had heard of that variety), loved it, and went back to another store yesterday, only to find it unavailable at that particular store. I was thoroughly disappointed in not being able to buy it. I can recommend Mezzetta Napa Valley Bistro “All Natural” Arrabbiata sauce. The good thing about it is that it really IS all natural – it contains only the same ingredients you would use if you made it at home (minus tomato paste, which is hit or miss in sauce recipes anyway, depending on the quality of the product.) No corn syrup, no sugar, no weird fillers or dried ingredients. Some might balk at jarred sauce, but considering your recipe uses canned ingredients, I think it’s an acceptable (and even easier!) substitute.

    Add some hot Italian sausage, and you have one delicious – and hot! – dish.

  • Kim
    August 23, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Yum! I love spicy and I love spaghetti, so this is the perfect combination!

    Safe travels and have fun in Austin!

  • Averie @ Averie Cooks
    August 23, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    That sauce looks so vibrant and puts me in the mood to start cooking some more ‘winter’ feeling meals. I always think of pasta, spaghetti, sauces like that as more fall/winter food 🙂

  • Ja @Ja on the RUN
    August 23, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    OMG! That looks super good! 🙂

  • Jamie
    August 23, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    What hotel did you stay at in Ethiopia? And where else did you eat out? Thanks!

  • Emily @ Life on Food
    August 24, 2013 at 3:42 am

    Simple recipe. Yes please! Plus I love spicy. And pasta. Basically this was made for me.

  • DessertForTwo
    August 24, 2013 at 5:33 am

    I always love your pasta recipes 🙂

  • Michael
    August 24, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Ethiopia, who’da thunk it! Anywho, awesome recipe though. I’ve always poured crushed red peppers on top of my spaghetti along with heaps of parmesan cheese to add a little heat to my dish, but this sounds like an interesting twist, thanks.

  • Kim
    August 24, 2013 at 10:43 am

    the sauce looks great. i’m eating low carb, so i’m going to try it with zucchini “pasta.”

  • Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic
    August 24, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    So interesting to know that Ethiopia has a lot of Italian food. I love easy, spicy pasta dishes like this – I want to make this tonight!

  • Ella
    August 24, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    haha Jenna – I love that you had to go all the way to Ethiopia to try something as commonplace as pasta arrabiata! 🙂

  • Kt
    August 24, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Yummy!! Also, your pictures in this post are very beautiful.

  • Amy @
    August 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    LOVE this! I am so in love with spicy food and so is my hubby! This will make a great date night dinner. We try to have date nights every other week or so, but can’t always go to a fancy meal; too expensive and not enough time. This will be a great, affordable date night meal! Thanks for the idea!

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    August 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    This looks delicious!!

  • Simona
    August 27, 2013 at 2:51 am

    I love spaghetti all’arrabiata! It truly is fast and cheap…and delicious!! 😉

  • Megan
    August 27, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    I made this for dinner last night, and my husband and I both loved it! Thanks for another simple and delicious recipe!

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  • Justeen
    November 21, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    This recipe is easy and delicious. Made for a perfect weeknight dinner with a glass of vino. I used garlic olive oil for extra garlic-y flavor!

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  • Bernice
    May 1, 2017 at 2:32 am

    Spaghetti All’Arrabiata is a taste of heaven! I tried it and it was great! Thanks for the recipe!