Spaghetti all’Assassina

Spaghetti all’Assassina, or Assassin’s Spaghetti, is a bold and flavorful dish hailing from Bari, Italy. Known for its unique cooking method, this spicy pasta is cooked directly in the pan with tomato sauce, resulting in a crispy, caramelized finish. It’s perfect for those who love their pasta with a kick and a bit of crunch.


  • 12 ounces (340g) spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups hot water or vegetable broth
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)


1. Prepare the Sauce:

  • In a bowl, mix the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and hot water or vegetable broth until well combined. Set aside.

2. Heat the Pan:

  • In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the sliced garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan. Sauté until the garlic is golden and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

3. Add the Spaghetti:

  • Add the uncooked spaghetti to the pan, spreading it out evenly. Let the spaghetti toast for about 1-2 minutes, pressing it down lightly with a spatula. This will start to give the pasta its characteristic crunch.

4. Begin Cooking the Pasta:

  • Pour about a third of the tomato mixture over the spaghetti. Stir occasionally, allowing the pasta to absorb the sauce and begin cooking.
  • As the liquid is absorbed, add more of the tomato mixture, a little at a time, stirring occasionally. Continue this process, much like making risotto, until the spaghetti is cooked al dente and has absorbed most of the sauce. This will take about 15-20 minutes.
  • If the pasta starts to stick too much, you can add a bit more hot water or broth.

5. Caramelize and Crisp:

  • Once the pasta is cooked through, let it sit in the pan without stirring for a few minutes to allow the bottom layer to caramelize and get crispy.
  • You can gently press down on the pasta with a spatula to increase the contact with the pan and promote even caramelization.

6. Serve:

  • Remove the pan from the heat. Serve the Spaghetti all’Assassina immediately, garnished with fresh basil leaves and grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Main Dish: Serve as a main dish with a simple green salad and crusty bread.
  • Accompaniment: Pair with a glass of robust red wine, such as a Primitivo or Nero d’Avola.

Cooking Tips:

  • Pasta Type: Use high-quality spaghetti for the best texture and flavor.
  • Spiciness: Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes according to your heat preference.
  • Pan Choice: A heavy-bottomed skillet is essential to achieve the perfect caramelization and crunch.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe:

  • Unique Method: Cooking the spaghetti directly in the pan with the sauce creates a unique texture and deep flavor.
  • Bold Flavors: The combination of garlic, chili, and tomato creates a spicy and rich sauce.
  • Crispy Bits: The caramelized, crispy bits of pasta are irresistible and add a delightful crunch.


Spaghetti all’Assassina is an adventurous and flavor-packed dish that brings a taste of Bari right to your kitchen. The combination of spicy, savory flavors and the unique cooking method make this pasta a must-try for any pasta lover. Enjoy the crispy, caramelized goodness of Spaghetti all’Assassina and savor a dish that truly stands out!

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