Thursday, February 18, 2010


fabulous pasta recipe that all my friends love

Penne alla Vodka

The sauce is rich with meat and cream, and takes on a slightly spicy flavor from the vodka and (my) secret touch. This is a classic pasta dish that fills the neighborhood with savory smells of sauteing fresh-chopped garlic and fresh-chopped white onion.

Prep Time: :10

Cook Time: :40


  • 1/4 pound prosciutto
  • can use bacon or pancetta...but I recommend PROSCIUTTO!
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved (I use at least 12 cloves, and I chop it up in the food processor.)
  • 1 medium onion, diced (I use about half of an onion, but if you're an onion-lover...go for it!!)
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, with their juice, pureed in a blender
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • SECRET! I use 1 tsp of red cayenne flavorful and not too spicy
  • Salt, to taste
  • Sometimes I use garlic salt, otherwise I use about 1tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • I like to use 1 cup heavy whipping cream, plus a little extra ;)
  • 2 (16-ounce) boxes penne pasta
  • 24 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Romano cheese


Place a large pot of cold, salted water (plus a drizzle of olive oil) over high heat to come to a boil.

If you are using bacon: in a large saute pan on medium heat, cook and render fat from the bacon
. (If you are using pancetta or prosciutto, skip this step and just saute it with the garlic.) Once the bacon is almost crisp, remove it from the pan and set it aside. Do not clean the pan.

Add the olive oil
and, when it is hot, add the fresh-chopped garlic (if you're using bacon, add the bacon back in with the garlic). Saute until the garlic turns light golden brown, then add the onion and saute until it becomes translucent, for about 5 minutes. Add the vodka and let it reduce by half, then add the pureed tomatoes, red pepper (red cayenne pepper), and salt. Simmer the sauce uncovered for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the heavy cream and simmer another 10 minutes.

Once you've added the cream, put the penne pasta
in the boiling water and cook until al dente according to package directions. Remove the sauce from the heat, add the fresh-chopped basil and the freshly-grated Romano cheese, and stir well. Drain the pasta (AL DENTE!), shock it with a little cold water, and return it to the pot it was cooked in. Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix gently until the pasta is coated completely. Serve immediately...well, maybe wait 5-10 minutes so sauce can thicken in the pasta...but then, serve immediately.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings (Just make it all at once...the leftovers are de-lish)

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