One of my most favorite Cook's Illustrated recipes is for Penne a la Vodka. The best part about this recipe is that I usually have everything on hand to make it, which makes it an easy dinner fill in. Of course I had to make garlic bread, mine with real garlic and C's with garlic salt...shudder. I love that this recipe makes so much because I really enjoy it leftover, the penne soaks up the sauce which makes it even more delicious.
I do play on the wild side and don't take the pan off the heat when I add the vodka...you have to add some excitement to cooking.
Penne a la Vodka
1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 small onion minced (about 1/4 c)
1 Tbs tomato paste
2 medium garlic cloves minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 C vodka
1/2 C heavy cream
1 lb penne pasta
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh basil
Grated parmesan for serving
Puree half of the tomatoes in food processor until smooth. Dice remaining tomatoes into 1/2 inch pieces, discarding cores. Combine pureed tomatoes and diced tomatoes in liquid measuring cup add reserved liquid to equal 2 cups.
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Add onion and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are light golden around the edges, about three minutes. Add garlic and pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 tsp salt. Remove pan from heat and add vodka. Return pan to medium-high heat and simmer briskly until alcohol flavor is cooked off, 8 to 10 minutes; stir frequently and lower heat to medium if simmering becomes to vigorous. Stir in cream and cook umtil hot, about 1 minute.
Add pasta sauce to penne pasta that has been cooked to al dente. Stir in basil and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, top with fresh parmesan.
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