Sunday, February 6, 2011

Penne a la Vodka

So I absolutely LOVE Vodka sauce.... I've had a hard time finding a great sauce outside of a restaurant setting however.... this one is totally YUMMY! It takes a lot of work but it's well worth it...I would serve this sauce a top Penne Pasta, sprinkled with Parmesan and prosciutto chopped up.

Penne a la Vodka
Below is the sauce recipe, you'll need to make a base sauce first, then use 4 cups of that for the vodka sauce... make sure to pick up a good quality vodka... cheap vodka will only ruin your sauce!

Simple Tomato Sauce

  • 1/2 C. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 4 to 6 basil leaves, chopped *
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbls. unsalted butter, optional

    * I chop all my fresh herbs the day I get them from the grocery store... then I throw them in a baggie and store them in the freezer... this way I never waste the left overs and they taste just like fresh herbs when I use them for cooking!


    1. In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes.
    2. Add celery and carrot and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
    3. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour or until thick.
    4. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. If sauce tastes too acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to round out the flavor.
    5. Pour half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.
    6. If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and then pour 1 to 2 cup portions into plastic freezer bags. Freeze for up to 6 months.
    Yield: 6 cups

    Vodka Sauce

    • 4 C. Simple Tomato Sauce
    • 1 C. vodka
    • 1/2 C. heavy cream, at room temperature (I added a little more than 1/2 C.)
    • 1/2 C. grated Parmesan
    • 1 pound penne pasta


    1. Simmer the tomato sauce and vodka in a heavy large skillet over low heat until the mixture reduces by 1/4, stirring often, about 35 - 45 minutes. Sauce should not have a strong vodka taste!
    2. Stir the cream into the tomato and vodka sauce. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is heated through.
    3. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted and well blended.
    4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
    5. Drain the pasta and transfer it to the pan with the sauce, and toss to coat.

    Don't forget to make some fresh whip cream for dessert with that left over heavy cream!!!

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