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Penne alla vodka, or penne with a bright tomato sauce enriched with heavy cream, is a quick, family-friendly dinner.

From my cookbook Weeknight/Weekend, this penne alla vodka, or penne with vodka sauce, is one of those no-meal dinners at home that I do over and over again. Aside from fresh basil, and even that grows abundantly in my yard during the summer, every ingredient for this dish is always handy in my kitchen. Vodka sauce, a bright tomato sauce enriched with heavy cream, comes together in the time it takes to boil the paste. You won’t really taste vodka; It’s simply there to cut through the richness of the dish without adding a distinctive flavor of its own. (Some people believe the dish was created by vodka makers to sell more vodka!)

What you’ll need to make Penne Alla


Penne alla Vodka ingredients

Step by step instructions Before

starting, crush the tomatoes. You can use kitchen scissors to cut them directly into the can or pour the entire contents of the can into a resealable freezer bag, press excess air, seal tightly, and then crush by hand. (Diced canned tomatoes are treated with a chemical that prevents them from breaking down when cooked, so when I want a mild tomato sauce, I prefer to use canned whole tomatoes and cut them myself.)

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crushing tomatoes for penne alla vodka

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil

. Heat the butter

in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat until it shines

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. 3L

Add the onion.

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melted butter

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Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. cook the onion Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds more. Do not brown.

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softened onions

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Add tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, salt, sugar and vodka

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garlic and red pepper flakes” />Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. add tomatoes, tomato paste, vodka and seasoning While the sauce is simmering, boil the pasta according to the package directions until it is just al dente.

vodka sauce over low heat

Before draining, remove about 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the paste, then return it to the pot. boiling pasteStir the cream in the sauce.

240 mL

Simmer, uncovered, for about 3 more minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until it is completely soft, leaving a few small pieces. (Alternatively, pour some of the sauce into a blender and puree until smooth. Be sure to remove the center knob from the blender and cover it with a tea towel to prevent splashing, then add it back to the pan.) penne in potPour the sauce over the penne. It may seem a bit soupy; It is ok. Bring the sauce and pasta to a soft boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently; Cook until the sauce is reduced and thickens enough to stick to the pasta, a few minutes. Add some of the reserved pasta water if the pasta appears dry.

stirring the cream in the vodka sauce

When combining a sauce with cooked pasta, always cook them together in the pot for a minute or two before serving. This combines the flavors and helps the sauce stick to the pasta.

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Add the basil, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary


mix vodka sauce with an immersion blender

Pour the pasta into serving bowls and pass the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on the table.

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