Penne alla Vodka
Delicioso... One of the simplest and most popular Italian-American dishes. This luscious, creamy vodka sauce is slightly rich, has a little spicy tang, with just a zing of vodka in the background. It works equally well with rigatonni, ravioli, tortellini, or ziti pasta as well as on some poultry dishes or bruschetta appetizers. For the best sauce, use the best vodka you can -- it really does make a difference!
"I thought that this recipe was great! I modified the recipe a bit, using whole wheat pasta and light whipping cream, just to make it a bit healthier. I also added some shredded chicken breast. My husband loved it! It took a little long from prep time to finish.....but I always take long the first time I am following a recipe. I think that I will try some Italian turkey sausage next time."- ECondry
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|1 28-oz canItalian plum tomatoes; (I use San Marzano), whole peeled|
|2 tablespoonsOlive oil|
|1 smallOnion; minced|
|2 mediumShallots; minced|
|1/2 teaspoonCrushed red pepper; or to taste (more or less)|
|1 tablespoontomato paste; (I use Hunt's or Muir Glen)|
|2 medium clovesGarlic; minced or pressed through garlic press|
|1/3 cupVodka; (use a good quality vodka)|
|1/2 cupHeavy cream; at room temperature|
|1 poundPenne pasta wheat|
|8 Fresh basil leaves; (up to 10) torn and shredded (about 2 tablespoons)|
|Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; for serving, freshly grated|
Penne alla Vodka Preparation
Bring 4 quarts water to rapid boil in a large Dutch oven or pot over high heat.
Drain tomatoes reserving liquid. Puree half of tomatoes in a blender or food processor until smooth. Dice remaining tomatoes into 1/4-inch pieces. Combine both pureed and diced tomatoes in a measuring cup and add enough of reserved tomato liquid to equal 2 cups of tomatoes; set aside. Measure out vodka; set aside.
Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, shallots, pepper flakes and tomato paste. Saute, stirring frequently, until onions and shallots just begin to turn light golden, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and stirring continuously, saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove pan from heat and add vodka*. Return pan to heat and bring to a brisk simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until strong alcohol flavor cooks off and sauce thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in cream and cook until hot, about 2 minutes.
While sauce is cooking (right after adding vodka to sauce): Add 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water and drop pasta. Cook, stirring frequently, until molto al dente (about 1 minute shy of al dente - which is tender, but firm to the bite). Drain pasta well, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water. Return pasta back to Dutch oven, add sauce, and toss over medium heat until pasta absorbs some of the sauce, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add reserved cooking water, as needed, if sauce is too thick. Stir in basil and adjust seasoning with salt. Serve immediately, passing Parmigiano-Reggiano separately.
* Note: Drop the pasta into the boiling water just after adding the vodka to the sauce so that the sauce and pasta finish cooking at the same time.
If your concerned about cooking with vodka, know that most (but not all) of it cooks off leaving just a hint of vodka that melds perfectly with the tomatoes, onions, shallots and garlic.
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