Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce

3 Jan

I’m excited about Worst Cooks in America starting up again. It’s a good show. I think it would be cool to pretend to be a worse cook than I am, get cast for the show, then impress them enough to win $25,000!

Last night I made pasta with vodka cream sauce. This is one of my favorite new pasta dishes because it is so quick and simple to make, yet it tastes very impressive.

The only problem I have is that every time I try to buy shallots at Target, the cashiers never know the code (apparently it’s a relatively new item there), and I end up holding up the whole line while they try to find out. I need to just memorize the code myself! =)

Here’s the recipe from the November 2010 Food Network Magazine for Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce:


* 1 lb pasta
* Salt
* 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes
* 1 tbsp unsalted butter
* 2 shallots, minced
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
* 1/2 cup vodka
* 2/3 cup heavy cream
* 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
* Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for topping


– Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta.

– Empty the tomatoes into a bowl and crush with your hands.

– Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in the vodka, tomatoes, and salt to taste. Return the skillet to medium heat and simmer, stirring often, until the alcohol cooks off, about 7 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the parmesan and basil.

– Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine, adding some of the reserved cooking water to loosen, if necessary. Season with salt. Serve topped with more parmesan and basil.

I used bow-ties...and I need to improve my food photography

Some comments about the recipe:

  • It’s perfectly OK to use dried basil in this if needed– I do sometimes
  • I only very lightly sprinkle some red pepper flakes into the pasta– I don’t like mine too spicy
  • I’ve never had to add extra cooking water to loosen the pasta– it’s a great consistency for me without it
  • I think it’s fun adding vodka to the pan and hearing the sizzle =)



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