If you are looking for some comfort food that is rich and satisfying, I’ve got this delicious pasta recipe that will make you smile from ear to ear. Penne alla Vodka is not a traditional dish and its origin is unknown. It’s popular in the Italian-American community, however, because of its richness, it is not part of my weekly repertoire. You can serve it with a protein and a veggie of your choice. I used some guanciale that I brought back with me from Italy. This pork fat is not available in most grocery stores in the USA (unless, you go to a specialty store) and it’s perfectly ok to substitute it with pancetta. Let’s get cooking! Put on your apron, and follow me in the kitchen.
Serves: 6-8 Difficulty level: Easy to intermediate
Allow about 1 hour of prepping and cooking time
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 lb. guanciale or pancetta
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup Vodka
- 1 – 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 – 32 oz. jar, prepared sauce (meatless)
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Italian parsley, rough-chopped
- 1.5 lb. penne pasta
- Parmigiano Reggiano, (Parmesan cheese)
1) In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat, sauté the guanciale for 2-3 minutes, add the onions, cook for 2-3 minutes, then the garlic, 1-2 minutes. Deglaze with the Vodka. Cook for about 2 minutes.
2) Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the flame, simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
3) In the meanwhile, bring pasta water to a boil, add salt and cook penne al dente or as per package directions. Drain well. Return to the pot. Drizzle some of the sauce on the pasta so it doesn’t clump up.
4) At this time, the sauce should be almost done, slowly pour the cream into the tomato sauce, and gently stir it in one direction. Let it simmer on low for 5 minutes.
5) Use a ladle to pour the sauce over the pasta. Mix it well until each pasta is drenched in the sauce. Serve it in a large decorative bowl. Sprinkle the cheese on top and garnish with parsley.
Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
World renown – WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust)
Level-2 Certified Wine Connoisseur.
Culinary Aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines & Travels
Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover