vodka penne or penne alla vodka is one of my go-to dishes. it is probably the dish that i make most often. when i ask alex what he wants for dinner, nine times out of ten he asks for vodka penne. i don't make the same dish more than once - unless it is really incredible. this recipe is really incredible. over the years i have tweaked bits and pieces of this recipe and i think i have finally perfected it.
this is a perfect dish for entertaining. it is not that involved and doesn't create a huge mess. and besides - who doesn't love pasta! i usually serve it with some good crusty bread and a salad of mixed greens with a red wine vinaigrette.
the smoky flavor that the vodka gives to the sauce is a delight. it takes an otherwise boring marinara sauce and brings it to the next level. lots of garlic and other spices make it intensely flavorful. the cream and the butter make the sauce so silky and gives it some structure. taking the pasta out of the water before it is all the way cooked and letting it finish in the sauce really lets the sauce penetrate the noodles. one of the best parts - it is even better than the next day.
serve it with a healthy grating of parmesan on top - it is perfection!vodka penne / penne alla vodka
inspired by Lidia Bastianich
serves 6 - 8
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 12 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
6 - 8 garlic cloves - minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup vodka plus 2 tablespoons to put in at the end
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup parmesan
1 teaspoon all purpose seasoning - i like emeril's essence for this
1 tablespoon italian seasoning
1 pound penne - cooked just shy of al dente
In a large pan, heat the olive oil and saute garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant. Add both cans of tomatoes, all purpose seasoning, italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Let simmer for 5 - 6 minutes.
Add the 1/2 cup of vodka and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir every once and a while.
Add cream, butter and parmesan and stir to combine. Let simmer for a couple minutes. Add the final 2 tablespoons of vodka.
Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Let cook in sauce for few minutes.
Serve with parmesan.
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