Penne all’assassina (murderer’s penne) made easy

I had the occasion to explain in a previous article (here) that the original recipe for Spaghetti all’assassina is based on a specific procedure carried out with specific tools. Scope of this new recipe is to present an easier version based on a pasta format, penne actually, which is easier to handle so that the “newbie” 😀 can focus on the recipe specific techniques only. Despite the unusual format, this recipe maintains the characteristics of the original dish and the unparalleled taste. A dish of ancient tradition and an example of a full-flavoured vegetarian and vegan recipe.

tomato paste and its transformation

Let’s start with the ingredients and the needed equipment and then I’ll move on to the procedure and some final advices.


  • 400g of penne rigate (or penne lisce)
  • 3 spicchi d’aglio
  • 150ml of EVO oil or a sunflower oil
  • 150ml of tomato puree
  • 1 liter of tomato broth: 500ml of tomato puree diluted in 500ml of water

Specific tools

  • although the original recipe calls for the use of an iron pan, it is easier to use a 24-28cm non-stick pan. The pan is supposed to easily accommodate all penne in a layer, maximum two layers.
penne all’assassina

step-by-step procedure

phase 1: frying

  • bring the tomato broth to a boil, seasoning with salt
  • peel and halve 3 cloves of garlic. Cut a fresh chilli in half and remove the seeds, triple the dose if you like it very hot.
  • pour the EVO oil into the pan and add the garlic at medium fire: be careful not to exceed the oil smoke point. If you use the sunflower oil, refer to the maximum temperature indications on the bottle. Add the chilli pepper as soon as the garlic starts to show some initial color. A minute later add the 150ml of tomato puree.
  • A couple of minutes later add the penne and “murder them” 😃 into the hot oil sauce. Some legends behind this plate call “a murder” such unusual way of cooking pasta (not boiled water). As shown in the demo video, it is necessary to stir penne often to allow the sautéed ingredients to penetrate inside the penne.
penne all’assassina

phase 2: risotto

  • The thickening of the tomato puree restarts the sizzling, immediately add a stir of tomato broth. Stir the penne as shown in the video and add more broth as soon as the sizzle restarts.
  • repeat the previous point until properly cooked, it will necessarily take longer than usual (twice the time at least). A torture more than a murder 😃. Leave it thicken when the tomato broth is finished, no more stirring.

Serve the penne all in one direction, parallel, with a floret of Greek basil (or a floret of real basil) at the side.

You will notice that the tomato and the oil have “killed” both the inside and the outside of the pen, such crunchiness here and there is tasty and unique. The tomato congealed by the murdering 😃 will have stuffed many penne filling the inside with the typical aroma.

advice section

Iron vs non-stick pan? The traditional recipe mandates the use of an aged iron pan of at least 32cm to make this dish. Unfortunately, it is not enough to buy an iron pan as this must be properly aged too. If not aged, the pasta will unavoidably stick to the bottom during cooking. I’m using a thick non-stick pan (at least 3mm) with similar results.

Oil temperature control. It is important to keep the oil temperature under control so that it does not exceed the smoke point. The search at all costs for the burns, the black crust typical of this dish, sometimes leads to exceeding the smoke point with known consequences. Better to have a few less caramelization and take care of our health.

Garnish and basil. Although not included in the original recipe, we prefer to mix in a large number of basil leaves. The basil leaves give freshness to the dish and color. Garnishing is not supported by the original recipe.

video demo


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