IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Lidia Bastianich's Penne with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Chef notes

This pasta dish is super easy to make, but it's also incredibly satisfying. It's called "al brucio" because it really brings on the spice. Originally, the recipe did not include ricotta, but the creamy cheese helps balance the spiciness of the sauce. You can also top it with a spoonful of burrata at the very end, or even some fresh mozzarella. 

Swap option: At Felidia, we make this dish with candele pasta, an extra-long, smooth pasta that is tubular, hollow and wide. It looks like a long candle, thus the name. 


  • Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 32-ounce cans plum tomatoes
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 pound dried penne rigate
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Grana Padano, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup fresh ricotta



Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.


Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook until the garlic just begins to turn golden, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sugar, and cook, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, 7-8 minutes, add the crushed red pepper flakes once the tomatoes give up their juice.


Meanwhile, cook the pasta until just al dente; remove it with a strainer, and add it to the tomatoes in the skillet along with about 1/2 cup pasta water. Toss to coat the pasta in the sauce; then simmer until the sauce comes together, about 2-3 minutes, adding a little more pasta water if it seems dry.


Remove the skillet from the heat, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle with the basil and grated cheese. Season with salt and toss well. Remove the rosemary sprigs and garlic, and discard.


Spoon the pasta into individual shallow bowls and spoon a fresh dollop of ricotta on top of each serving.