Spaghetti all’assassina, known as Killer Spaghetti or Burnt Spaghetti (Spaghetti bruciati), is a traditional and simple dish from Bari, Apulia, Italy. It consists of a few simple ingredients: spaghetti, tomato sauce, tomato paste, oil, and chili pepper.
Spaghetti all’assassina comes from Bari, the capital of Apulia, where I come from.
History has it that two Italian tourists from the North visited a restaurant called Al Sorso Preferito, in Bari. The two tourists requested a tasty pasta dish, and the chef offered them a spaghetti dish with tomato sauce and a very generous amount of chili pepper.
When the tourists were asked how it was, they replied the chef was a killer, presumably because of the excessive chili amount. This story dates back to 1967 and was told by the chef himself in an interview issued in 2018.
There are other stories about it but they don’t seem to have any actual connection to reality, so let’s stick to the previous one.
Why does this spaghetti recipe differ from the rest?
We all know that if you tell an Italian person to cook pasta in a frying pan, they will leave the room and block any contact with you (only half joking), but surprise, this pasta is cooked in a pan. In fact, it recalls more the idea of a risotto.
The spaghetti are cooked in a broth of water, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Also, while usually you should cook pasta al dente, in this case, you can cook the pasta until a little burnt. From this comes the second name of this dish, burnt spaghetti.
As I anticipated, spaghetti all’assassina requires few and easy ingredients, so it comes in handy when you want to cook something tasty and quick.
- Spaghetti – we used bronze-cut Molisana spaghetti, but you can use lower-quality pasta, which is closer to the idea of this recipe.
- Tomato sauce – choose a non-spiced regular version. We suggest using Mutti, as it’s good and widely available.
- Tomato paste – use a plain version of this as well.
- Chili pepper – this is supposed to be a spicy dish, but you can choose to opt for a milder chili pepper if you wish so.
- Oil – clearly, extra virgin olive oil.
Cooked like a risotto
The peculiarity of spaghetti all’assassina is the cooking method. When cooking risotto, we use a pan where we toast the rice, and little by little we add broth. The same applies to this dish, with the exception that we will use a tomato sauce broth.
In our pan, we will add the garlic cloves with olive oil and chili pepper, while in a pot we will make our broth with tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water. The broth will have to boil and be left to simmer.
Once the pasta is added to the pan, let it cook for a while without adding any broth. When both sides are a little crispy, start adding the broth and cook until slightly burnt.
Spaghetti all’assassina (Killer Spaghetti)
- 1 Frying pan
- 1 Pot
- 160 gr spaghetti
- 200 gr tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 50 ml olive oil extra virgin
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ chili pepper
- 500 ml water
- Peel the two garlic cloves and chop one of them finely. Finely chop the chili pepper as well.
- Make the broth by adding water, 2/3 of the tomato sauce, and the tomato paste in a pot. Bring to boil and let simmer.
- In a pan, add olive oil, the garlic cloves, and the chili pepper. Cook the garlic and chili for some minutes and after, add the tomato sauce that you did not use for the broth, so the remaining 1/3.
- Let the sauce in the pan reduce over medium heat and add the spaghetti, paying attention to distribute them evenly.
- When the spaghetti start getting a little crispy, turn them and wait for the other side to get crispy as well.
- Start pouring a ladle of tomato sauce broth and cook over medium heat. The pasta will start to soften and it will be easier to manage in the pan. Keep adding broth little by little on the side of the pan when some of the previously added broth evaporates.
- Continue until the spaghetti are cooked.
- Use low-quality pasta if you have it.
- Reduce or increase the chili amount based on your taste.
- You can cook the pasta until slightly burnt.
Nutritional information shall not be used for medical reasons.