Friday, June 18, 2010

Penne alla Vodka

Last night I invited Garrick, his sister, and her baby (Logan) over to dinner. I made "Skillet Penne alla Vodka" from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2010. I love it because it's simple and tasty. The book says it serves four, but I usually get 5-6 servings out of it.

Skillet Penne alla Vodka
  • 3 14.5 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (I use about 1 tsp minced garlic from a jar)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup vodka (the book recommends premium vodka because cheaper ones will taste harsh in the sauce, and pepper vodka can be used in place of plain for an extra flavor)
  • 12 oz (about 3 3/4 cups) penne
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • Pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
1. Pulse the tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until no large pieces remain (I keep going until there are no pieces of tomato, just smooth sauce).
2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet (I use a wok) over medium heat until simmering. Add the tomato paste, onions and 1/2 tsp of salt and cook until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook about 30 seconds (until fragrant). Stir in the processed tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 10 minutes (so that the tomatoes don't taste raw).
3. Stir in the water and vodka, then add the paste. Increase the heat to medium-high, cover, and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat to maintain a rigorous simmer, until the pasta is tender, abou15 to 18 minutes.
4. Stir in the cream and cook until hot, about 1 minute (I usually take it off the heat to stir in the cream because the residual heat will warm the cream fast enough on its own), then add the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, sprinkling with parmesan if desired.

Last night was probably the 3rd time I had made this, and I like it every time. It's very good with garlic bread and a salad. Ilene liked it too. Give it a try!

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