Thursday, October 30, 2014

Classic Penne A la Vodka

Can anybody answer why oh why is pasta the most delicious, comforting meal on the planet? I have to insist that someone answer this question.

As the weather gets cooler--and let us just accept it, because it is--I find myself craving generous servings of classic comfort food. What could be better than a creamy, dreamy bowl chock full of al dente pasta, tossed in a most delightful A la Vodka sauce?

If you said, "Nothing!" you are absolutely right! This Classic Penne A la Vodka is the light at the end of a hard day, the big hug after a long cry. A rich and flavorful tomato cream sauce enriched with the flavor of garlic and prosciutto, sweetened with a touch of vodka, heavy cream, and fresh basil.

Penne A la Vodka always reminds me of my sister, Amy. so I guess you can say this recipe is dedicated to her! Whenever we went out for an Italian dinner, she almost exclusively ordered Fettuccine Alfredo or Penne A la Vodka. Now both she (and you!!) can save a few bucks and make restaurant quality Penne A la Vodka from the comfort of your own home.

Let's get that pasta water bawlin'!!

Here's what you need for Classic Penne A la Vodka* (Print Recipe!)

3 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, diced fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 ounces thin sliced prosciutto, diced
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (be sure they are plain, not flavored with basil or oregano)
14 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup plain vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente according to package instructions
grated parmesan cheese for serving

Here's what you do

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet with high sides, heat the butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, add the shallots and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and prosciutto, stirring constantly until the garlic is fragrant.

If you're working on a gas stove with an open flame, turn off the heat and add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and vodka. Stir to combine. Warm over medium heat until bubbly. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Stir in the cream and basil until warmed through.  Top a big plate of the pasta with a generous serving of the sauce and a bit of grated cheese. Warm crusty bread with a smear of butter would also be more than OK here, and don't worry--I won't tell.

*Adapted from Food Network and Skinnytaste

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