Penne alla Vodka

What you'll need

  • 1 pound penne
  • 28 ounces whole tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cups vodka
  • 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons basil, minced

Serves: 4

Start heating a pot of heavily salted water. In the meantime, get your mise en place going. Chop half of the tomatoes, purée the rest, then combine in a two-cup measuring cup, adding enough reserved juice to get up to the two-cup mark.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and tomato paste, cook for about three minutes, until the onion is softening. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds or so — just so the garlic gets fragrant. (Your pasta water should be getting close by now.)

Stir in the tomatoes and a half-teaspoon of salt. Remove pan from the heat, add the vodka (this is so you're not pouring flammable vodka into a hot pan), return it to heat, and give it a good simmer for the next 10 minutes, burning off the alcohol.

As soon as you have the vodka going, drop your pasta in the water, give it a stir, get it going. If you're only eating half of the pasta for now, remove half the sauce, and half the cream. Now add the cream, cook for a few minutes on high, until it doubles in size and then falls back down. 

When the pasta is finished, fish it out and drop it in the sauce pan. Cook it for another minute or two, so everything gets coated. Then spoon it into bowls/plates and top with some Romano and basil, along with salt and pepper to taste.

Submitted by: Joel

Thanks to: ATK/The Cooking Photographer