Main Courses, pasta, Sauces

Penne ala Vodka

I love Vodka sauce…it’s probably my favorite and being an accomplished cook I have had sampled and made many versions over the years. Recently at a local restaurant I ordered it and was dissapointed so it left me craving the dish…which I made last night. This is my super easy (and lighter) version, but please only use the very best ingredients because you will really taste them. I like this served with a good Sangiovese or Cabernet Sauvignon, but a nice spicy Shiraz would also work well as would a good Chianti.

3 cups Marinara (make your own…you won’t be sorry)
1 cup good Vodka (I use Belvedere)
1/2 cup Organic heavy cream-warmed or at room temp
1/4 cup fresh torn Basil
Parmigiano Reggiano

1 pound Penne cooked according to instructions and drained (do not rinse! I know it sounds silly to even say it, but this was one the snafu’s I experienced at the restaurant refenced above…) Keep it warm by using the trick from my restaurant days. Place your colander over another good sized pan and and drain your pasta and pasta water into the second pan/colander. Now the heat from the pasta water below will keep your pasta warm while you finish the sauce 🙂

Heat the Marinara and the Vodka over medium heat for about 20 mintues…the sauce will reduce a bit and the alcohol will evaporate a bit. When it starts to come together add the heavy cream and heat through.

I add the hot pasta to the sauce…but you can serve the sauce atop the pasta if you like. Finish it with the torn Basil and Parmigiano Reggiano.

This is a simple Marinara recipe and very easy to remember, make it on the weekend or a day when you have some free time. I add Fresh Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano and Basil to my recipes so I do not add them to my marinara. Feel free to season this generously if you are serving it over pasta. 

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (I like San Marzano organics but they are hard to find so I will sub Muir Glen organics)
2 dried bay leaves

Put the onions, carrots, garlic and celery in the FP and pulse until finely chopped (or chop by hand, I do). In a large non-reactive sauce pan, heat the oil over a medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and cook until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are soft…about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste.