We’re big fans of pasta, and one of our favorite dishes is penne alla vodka – penne noodles coated in a cream-enriched tomato sauce (spiked, of course, with a little vodka). Although adding vodka to pasta sauce might seem a little strange, this dish never fails to satisfy. We’re using Tito’s Handmade Vodka in our sauce (and our libations) tonight, and if you’re a vodka drinker, don’t pass this one up. Tito’s is a very smooth, clean tasting vodka from Austin, Texas made in small batches, and the flavor is far superior to many higher priced vodkas – and certainly perfect for our sauce.
Penne alla Tito’s Handmade Vodka
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 cans crushed tomatoes (15 oz. cans)
- 1/2 cup vodka
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (plus extra for finishing)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the shallots until they are soft (but not browned). Add the garlic and red pepper; cook for a minute longer. If you’re cooking with gas (or are clumsy) you might want to remove your pan from the heat and add the vodka and your tomatoes, add salt. Cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cream and simmer until the sauce thickens (4-5 minutes). Stir in the Parmesan and the basil and adjust salt if needed. Toss with 16 ounces cooked penne and sprinkle a bit more Parmesan over the top. Serve.
The rich flavor of the cream and Parmesan along with the tang of the tomatoes and the bite of the pepper and vodka really make this dish something different. The prep time is minimal, and feel free to add sausage, bacon, chicken, or shrimp to the mix if you need some protein – but the sauce certainly stands on its own! Enjoy!