This Penne Ala Vodka recipe is a staple pasta dish in our home. It’s one of my “go to” dishes to fix in a snap. I can throw it together in a little more than an hour. I make it in big batches and sometimes freeze what’s left for another day, when I don’t feel like cooking at all. Today I’m making this dish because it’s a special request from the birthday boy. He loves his PASTA! (just like his Momma)
Truth be told, I can eat pasta 3-4 times a week. I’m not saying that this happens often, but when it does, I’m so lucky that Nino goes along with my carb cravings. Bless his heart, he eats the pasta with us and does not complain 🙂 Thanks Babe!
I often pair this pasta with chicken cutlets, a nice mixed salad, and some garlic bread for a complete meal. It’s easy. And my helpers know this is a staple so they have mastered putting it together and timing the garlic bread with the pasta too!
2 large cans of diced tomatoes. (I buy this “extra large” one because it’s cheaper than buying multiples of the “large” size. I use half for the vodka sauce and then I freeze the other half and use it at a later date.)
1 liter of fresh cream (If you don’t have fresh cream like this, Nestle tetra pack works OKAY, but adjust the amount because you need the sauce to be pinkish in color. I think 2 packs of Nestle might suffice.) NOTE: You are NOT going to use the whole liter. You will probably only use about half. You can save the other half for another dish I like to make 🙂 Carbonara.
250 grams of Prosciutto (Santi’s usually has a vacuumed sealed pack you can pick up. I was in S&R today for the birthday boy’s favorite food so I picked this pack up there instead.)
2 medium RED onions chopped
Lots of fresh basil
a large pat of butter, the creamier the better
About a cup or so of grated Parmesan cheese (You’ll use half of this right in the sauce and the other half is for the table so everyone can add to their own pasta bowl.)
About a half of a cup of inexpensive Vodka (Um. I only had Kettle One in the house so I’ll just use a little bit of it. It cooks out anyway, but really it’s too expensive to cook with this on a regular basis. I’d rather have a vodka cranberry with it 🙂
About a half of a cup of inexpensive Brandy. (This is a secret I picked up from one of my sorority sisters, Dana, when we would cook together.)
First you need to saute the chopped red onions and chopped prosciutto in EVOO. You want the onions to be crystalline and the prosciutto to have rendered some of the fat away. (Remember: The FAT is where the flavor is at!) Season with a little salt and some fresh ground black pepper.
Next add the diced tomatoes. I used DICED because I like the texture of chunks of tomatoes with each bite, but you can use any kind of tomato sauce product that you like. It can be whole tomatoes that you mash, or CRUSHED tomatoes as well.
Remember when cooking with alcohol you will end up cooking it out of the dish most times, and it’s just there for the flavor…not to get drunk. I cook this for about 40 mins.
When I’m ready to serve, I add the cream. There is no set amount here to measure. You just add enough cream to your liking to achieve the color pink that you like. I like mine creamy…so I add quite a bit of cream. After you have mixed it up, add your grated cheese. (I didn’t say this dish was the type of dish you eat when your dieting! ) Mix well, and keep on the heat just a little while in case the cream cooled down your sauce too much. But don’t leave this pot alone anymore. You have all that cheesy creamy goodness in there now, and if left alone it can turn into a disaster really quickly.
Throw your sauce over your cooked penne and garnish with some fresh basil for presentation. Top with a little bit more grated cheese and dig in!