Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Only Pasta Recipe You'll Ever Need - PW's Penne alla Vodka

This is probably one of the EASIEST dishes you can ever make. After I learned how easy Vodka sauce was to make at home, I haven't bought it ready made since. The real magic comes from the alcohol soluble compounds in the tomatoes; vodka frees them and that gives this sauce a real depth and lusciousness of flavor. This is one of my favorite dishes of my bestie, Michelle, and for this entry, I made this for her at her house.

Oh, and of course, this recipe is from The Pioneer Woman, because I just love her. Let's begin, shall we?


Penne, heavy cream, butter, tomato paste (the recipe calls for tomato puree, but sometimes that's hard to find. go ahead and use the paste, but be aware that you'll have a thicker sauce), onion, garlic, and parm.

OH! And vodka, obviously. Use the crappy stuff for this dish, the cheaper the better...I think it tastes better.

I would have used fresh garlic BUT...

Sprouted garlic = bitter garlic. So garlic powder works just fine.

Before we start on the sauce, first, the pasta water. You want the water nice and boiled by the time we start making the sauce. Once that happens, everything's gonna move really quick!

Now, start chopping up your onion, like this...only minus the chipped manicure.

Get a large skillet on the stove, and throw in the onion, garlic (in my case, garlic powder), and 2 tablespoons of butter. THEN, turn on the burner, medium heat. I like to start the vegetation in a cold pan so they can sweat, i.e., give off their flavor and cook slowly. Give this about 10 minutes, or until the onions look translucent.

Meanwhile, measure out a cup of your booze.

And add it to your sizzling onions. SLOWLY PLEASE. You don't want to send any of this over the side of the pan and into your flames, because ALCOHOL IS FLAMMABLE. Stir for a minute or two.

Oh, you remembered to put in the pasta once the water boiled, right? We did.

Stir in one can of the the tomato puree (or paste), and a cup of heavy cream. After this, turn the heat down as low as you can!

Oh, mama. Doesn't that look creamy and dreamy already?? Add some salt and black pepper to taste (you can also add some dried basil or oregano), cover, and let simma simma down for 10 minutes.

Now, the pasta should be done. Before you go and drain it, reserve about a cup of the starchy hot pasta water. You can use it to thin the sauce if it gets too gloopy.

Which is exactly what we did. I told you, tomato paste = thicker sauce. But I really love that intense tomato flavor the paste gives you. So I prefer it!

Oh, and just because I'm extra....another pat of butter.  I also threw in Parmesan cheese. I used about a 1/2 cup, and reserved the rest to add at the table.

Okay, enough with all this jibberjabber. We're hungry.

Thanks to Michelle for being my favorite sous chef!!


  1. I LOOOOOOOOOVE THIS DISH! And speaking as someone who has trouble boiling water sometimes (don't ask) this is a recipe anyone can really cook and master. Plus, we listened to Girl Talk while we cooked and there is never anything wrong with shaking a little boot-tay in the kitchen!

  2. LMAO at that sprouted garlic!

  3. HAHAHAHHA, i love that picture too.

  4. Looks delish! Want some... better go get out the pots. :)