As we enter the holy season of lent, I wish everyone a Happy Carnevale, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras or whatever you choose to call it. Most Italians keep the tradition of Lasagna on this day, but any robust and richly flavored pasta will satisfy everyone at your table! In that spirit, I am sharing my Penne Vodka recipe. This is EASY to make! Enjoy!
1 pound penne
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 scallion, sliced
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (I use Tutta Rosa or San Marzano, any other tomatoes are against the "Camille Law!")
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup vodka (buy a high quality brand to keep in your kitchen so that it is always on hand for this recipe as well as others!)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup freshly grated cheese (I use Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
In a large pot, boil water for the penne. When water begins to boil, add salt liberally. Let water return to a boil, and cook penne to al dente. While water is boiling and the penne is working, warm the olive oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the crushed red pepper and allow to sizzle as it flavors the oil and butter. Add the garlic and scallions and cook until tender. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, and stir the ingredients together. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and bring to a lively boil for three minutes. Pour in the vodka, lower the heat and allow the sauce to simmer until the penne is ready. Pour the heavy cream into the simmering tomatoes and vodka and stir in to create a creamy sauce. Reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain the penne. Add the penne to the sauté pan.
If your saute pan is not large enough to hold all the penne, then return the pasta to the pot and pour in the sauce from the saute pan. Toss in the grated cheese and parsley and mix the sauce and penne very well. Add the reserved pasta water, as needed. Add more grated cheese to your liking. You may also garnish with basil for color. Enjoy!