I try to stay true to my Italian heritage, so I have been experimenting with pasta dishes for a while. Pasta is one of my go to meals, I suppose you can thank my Italian father for this one! Unfortunately, I prefer the cream sauces, which are higher in calories than marinara, but a good compromise is to make it pink. When I was living in Rome my Italian host mom gave me a few secret tips for making homemade red sauce. The simpler the better and add a little sugar to sweeten it up. In an authentic Italian restaurant they don’t serve the pasta like pizza with tons of toppings, it is usually limited to a few. So it’s either meat, fish or a veggie, but not all of the above.
I have almost perfected my Vodka sauce and I serve it to everyone, hence the “famous” part. This recipe was given to me from a friend a while back, but I have changed it up a bit to make it my own. I know, you are all asking, how can I serve my family pasta with vodka in it? Don’t worry, the alcohol cooks off so it is fine for both my husband who doesn’t drink and my children who haven’t discovered that indulgence just yet! I always make a big pot of the sauce and freeze half without the cream for next time. Of course, I can’t eat pasta without bread, again, I will blame my Dad for that too! Seriously, I could eat a whole loaf of Italian bread or a French baguette, so I have to limit the amount I make otherwise, I would polish it off myself. I have experimented with my own frozen canned tomatoes which are heavenly, but make the sauce a little runnier, so when I use store bought versions I go for the San Marzano! I made this last weekend for Sunday dinner and as usual it was a big hit, plus we had enough leftovers for the next night! What are your favorite pasta dishes? Please share and let me know if you try my recipe; would love to hear your thoughts. Until next time, indulge a little. Everything in moderation, so control your portions and enjoy a rich sauce made with real butter and cream every once in a while! Now that is “Chique”.
Penne alla Vodka
2 sticks butter
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves
2 cups Vodka
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Fresh Parmesan Cheese
1 box Rigatoni or Penne
In a large saucepan, melt the butter slowly. Careful not to burn. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes (the more pepper the hotter the sauce so don’t over do it, but at least cover the butter). Crush the garlic, I use an old fashion garlic press and add to butter. Add the vodka one cup at a time and let it cook off. You can tell when the vodka is cooked if you can’t smell the alcohol. Also, I use cheap vodka for cooking as the alcohol burns off anyway. Then add the next cup of vodka. Once the vodka has cooked off add the 2 cans of tomatoes. The sauce will appear thin but will thicken with time.
Let it simmer on low heat for a couple of hours. The longer you let it reduce the better. I usually take half the sauce and freeze it before adding the heavy cream. It is important to freeze the sauce without the cream. Then next time all you have to do is defrost, reheat and just add the cream. Promise, it will taste as fresh as the first batch.
Boil the water and cook the Penne. I love De Cecco pasta because it does not break apart when you cook it, but you can always substitute for whole wheat pasta and it still tastes great. When the pasta is almost ready, add the whipping cream. You don’t want to cook the cream or it will curdle. You could also add some fresh Ricotta cheese instead of the cream.
Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce and toss. In the summer we take fresh Basil from the garden and sprinkle it on top too.
Serve with a chunk of Parmesan and grate over each plate. When it is not meatless Lent, I love it with sweet Italian sausage!