Penne Alla Vodka: A simple vegetarian delight with just a wee bite

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So after a short hiatus caused by multiple distractions, I return to The Cut Up Cook with something simple, easy and delicious that when you tell people you made it they won’t believe that it was all that easy.  Just saying vodka sauce brings to mind this idea that you have spent a bunch of time making a big Italian feast with a delicious tomato sauce that must have been simmering for hours.  However, this particular tomato sauce only simmers for a short time and can actually be a really fantastic weeknight meal.

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In total the sauce only takes about 20-25 minutes to complete and can be paired with any short pasta you desire.  In that first picture you will notice that I actually used a couple different types of pasta because I had a partial box or two that needed to get used up.  A couple of cut ups/recommendations for this particular recipe are these.

1)As always I will provide the recipe as it is described in the cookbook I borrowed it from (in this case we are back to Pasta Revolution).  However, I found that when simmering the alcohol in the sauce, the length of time that they recommend almost completely eliminates the alcohol flavor in the sauce, so you may consider reducing this time if you like a little more bite.

2)While I truly believe that some ingredients are interchangeable, there are certain times where those changes should not be made.  In this case, I will admit that I almost always use milk (which is standard in our refrigerator) instead of heavy cream in a recipe, this is one time where I would spring for the cream.  This is a vegetarian pasta with not much in the way of chunky items, so the extra richness that comes from the fat in the cream really makes the dish infinitely more enjoyable.

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Penne Alla Vodka

  • 1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound penne (or any short tube you have on hand)
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
  1. Pulse half of the tomatoes in a food processor until smooth.  Dice the rest of the tomatoes into cubes and discard the seeds and cores.  Combine both the tomato pieces and puree in a liquid measuring cup at least two cups in size and and the juice from the can to total two cups of assorted tomato parts.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onions and tomato paste and cook until slightly browned and softened (5-7 minutes).  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook about 30 more seconds until fragrant.
  3. Stir in the tomato mixture and salt to taste.  OFF THE HEAT, add the vodka and return to a medium high heat for 8-10 minutes to cook off the alcohol.  Stir in the heavy cream and cook until heated through.
  4. When your pasta is ready (which you already were doing right?) drain and add it directly to the sauce.  Cook over a medium heat for just a moment, stirring constantly, until the pasta absorbs some of the sauce, just a minute or two.  Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve and enjoy with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. 
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One comment on “Penne Alla Vodka: A simple vegetarian delight with just a wee bite

  1. Colin Persichetti says:

    Colin —
    This was a good one. Thanks.

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