Who’s up for an Italian-American classic? Pasta with vodka sauce is a classic for a reason. Vodka sauce is basically the quintessential tomato-cream sauce. Sweet, tangy tomatoes and rich cream are perfectly complimentary in this pasta dish.
The process I use to make my sauce makes my Penne alla Vodka something pretty special. First off, I cook down onions low and slow (for nearly an hour!) to develop flavor and sweetness. Garlic, tomato paste, and of course vodka all come into play here, too. Good quality San Marzano tomatoes are another major component of the sauce. The better the tomatoes, the better the sauce. Once the sauce cooks down, I like to puree it smooth before stirring in the cream. And lets not forget the basil and cheese.
- 1lb penne pasta
- ¼C extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 2T tomato paste
- ¼C vodka
- 1- 28oz can whole peeled, San Marzano tomatoes
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Whole small basil leaves or torn larger leaves, for garnish
- Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, for serving
- Warm a large sauce pot over medium-low heat. Add oil, followed by the onions, and season with salt. Maintain heat over low to medium-low, and cook until onions are sweet and caramelized with little to no color, about 40-60 minutes.
- Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté about 30 seconds; do not brown the garlic. Add tomato paste, increase heat to medium and sauté 5-7 mins, or until paste slightly deepens in color. Stir in vodka and reduce to about 1 tablespoon.
- Add canned tomatoes, season with salt, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce to a simmer, partially cover and cook about 45-60 minutes, or until sauce is thickened and developed in flavor. Adjust seasoning, as needed.
- Transfer sauce to a blender and puree until smooth. Return sauce to the pot. Stir in cream and taste again for seasoning.
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. The water should taste like salt water. After the sauce is ready, boil the pasta one minute short of al dente. Add the pasta to the sauce pot and toss to coat. Garnish with basil and serve with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. Enjoy.