Friday, December 23, 2011

Pasta alla Vodka

Are you needing an easy week night dinner that tastes like you've been slaving for hours? Look no further! This amazing dish has by far the absolute best sauce I've ever made! I made it twice, but it was still too involved and, per my husband, required too many dirty dishes for clean-up. The second try I think was the better of the two recipes! This is so creamy and delicious that I am thinking it might be on our weekly menu. I'm sure the liquor store will think we have really taken a liking Vodka when we keep coming back for it.

Pasta alla Vodka
Adapted from: Annie's Eats, originally Cooks Illustrated
Yields: 5 servings

16 oz dried pasta shapes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 can crushed tomatoes (15 oz)
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup reserved pasta water, if needed
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil leaves
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente and drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and tomato paste and cook until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Mix in garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Pour the crushed tomatoes into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup and add enough water to make it 2 cups (about 1/4 cup of water is necessary). Add this and the salt to the pan with the onion mixture. Remove pan from heat and add the vodka. Return pan to heat and simmer briskly on medium heat until alcohol cooks off, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat if simmer becomes too brisk.

Stir in the cream and cook an additional 1 minute, being sure to not cook too long or else the sauce will separate. Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce and toss well. Cook on medium-low heat for about 3 minutes to allow the sauce to be absorbed by the pasta. If the pasta seems to thick, add some of the reserved pasta water. Both times I used all of the 1/4 cup and it made the dish much more creamy! Add the basil and top with Parmesan cheese when serving.

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