Spaghetti al Pesto Arrabbiato
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Spaghetti al Pesto Arrabbiato

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Serves 4

My version of the classic Italian spicy 'Arrabbiata' (Angry) sauce - deconstructed to make a wonderful spicy Pesto. This dish, although hot and spicy, is nice and light and is great in the summer.

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  • 8 Red Chilli Peppers
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 20 Pachino Tomatoes or Large Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Cup of Rock Salt
  • 250g Pack of Pancetta or Bacon Lardons (optional)
  • 1 cup of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Half a cup of Black Olives
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 400g Dried Spaghetti
  • Chopped Parsley
  • Grated Parmesan


    1. Place the fresh red chilli peppers on a baking tray and bake in a hot oven until their skins start to darken. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Keep 4 of these to one side to garnish your finished plate and use the rest for the pesto. I use quite a few chillies, as I like very hot, spicy food, but you should alter the amount of chillies to suit your own taste.
    2. Dry-roast the tomatoes: line a separate baking tray with a thick layer of rock salt. Halve your Pachino tomatoes (or very large Cherry tomatoes if you can't find Pachino) and line them up on the layer of salt. Place them in the oven at the same time as the chillies (Step 1) and bake until they start to shrivel up, they should look something like small shiny sun-dried tomatoes. Remove from the heat and, once cool, remove from the tray brushing off any salt crystals. Dry roasting the tomatoes like this causes the salt to absorb all the liquid, giving a very concentrated, full flavour to the tomatoes (which also keep their form and don't disintegrate in the pesto).
    3. Optional: In a separate pan, fry a pack of Pancetta or Bacon Lardons until they start to sizzle. Drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool. Leave out this step if a vegetarian dish is preferred.
    4. To make the pesto add 4 of the roasted chillies to a large pestle and mortar and pound together with the garlic cloves until a rich red paste is achieved (alternatively you can liquidise the mixture, but I prefer to pound as a richer flavour is released). Add the chilli paste to a large serving bowl and stir in the olives, Pancetta/Bacon, cup of olive oil and seasoning to taste (watch the salt quantity if you used Pancetta/Bacon).
    5. Cook and drain off your chosen Spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet. Once drained do not leave the pasta in the colander but throw straight into the bowl with the Pesto mixture. Toss the pasta together with the Pesto, and then gently add the Dry Roasted Tomatoes. Garnish with a whole roasted chilli and a sprinkling of chopped parsley. Sprinkle over some Parmesan if required.

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