Do you ever crave a pasta dish with a rich, creamy sauce? Recently in the “Here to Help” column in the first section of The New York Times was a published recipe by Colu Henry for Pasta alla Vodka. This recipe takes a quick 30 minutes to prepare.
For the recipe you’ll need, kosher salt, rigatoni (or penne), olive oil, pancetta (optional, but I suggest you don’t skip), an onion, fresh garlic, red-pepper flakes, vodka, 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, black pepper, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, fresh oregano and fresh parsley.
Some food stores sell packaged, diced pancetta. When I went to my local grocer, the pickings were slim, so I headed over to the deli and purchased a ¼-inch slice of pancetta. It turns out, it was a few cents less than the prepackaged. I did have to dice it myself, but that was no problem. The pancetta adds a nice layer of flavor to the sauce. I was able to get a few decent sprigs of oregano out of my cold frame for garnish.
While the pasta water was being brought to a boil, I started the sauce. The pancetta goes in a 12-inch skillet and is fried until crispy. Into the rendered fat, go the onion, finely chopped garlic and red pepper flakes. Next the vodka, nothing fancy as we’re not vodka drinkers. The liquid is cooked until reduced by half. To this add the tomatoes, some water, salt and black pepper; simmer. At the end, the heavy cream is added to turn the sauce a bit pink.
Oh, my goodness, was this every so delicious! The sauce was thick and rich, the red pepper flakes gave it a bit of kick and the pancetta not only added a layer of flavor, but texture. Ms. Henry’s recipe was easy to follow and was spot on for taste. This will be a dish that you used to go out for, but now make at home.
Pasta Alla Vodka
By Colu Henry
The New York Times
“Here to Help” Column
November 30, 2021
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
Time: 30 minutes
1 pound rigatoni or penne pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces diced pancetta, optional
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
¾ cup vodka
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup heavy cream
¼ cup grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons roughly chopped Italian parsley
A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.