Pasta with Vodka Sauce

I filed this recipe away for a special time since the ingredients call for heavy cream, and I try not to use that too often in my cooking. But Thanksgiving rolled around, so I made it. And it was so popular I had to make a second batch! It’s actually quite easy to make, comes together quickly, and tastes delicious. Adapted from Serious Eats.

Here’s what you need:

3 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, roughly diced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

1 can (14.5 oz) whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup half and half

1 tablespoon white or brown sugar

1 pound rigatoni (or other tubular pasta)

1/4 cup vodka

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Here’s what you do:

1. Heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, crushed red pepper and salt, and cook until onion softens and starts to turn golden, about 15 minutes, stirring often.

2. Add the tomato paste to the pot, and stir to incorporate, allowing to cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the entire can of peeled tomatoes and juice to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then allow to cook for about 10 minutes, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a spoon.

4. Add cream, half and half, and sugar, and stir to incorporate. Turn off heat.

5. In a blender, puree the tomatoes until smooth. Return to the pot.

6. Bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for three minutes less than al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the rest. While the pasta is cooking, bring the tomatoes back to a simmer and add the vodka.

7. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the tomatoes, and stir in the pasta. Coat the pasta in the sauce, and allow it to cook the remaining 3 minutes in the sauce, adding the remaining pasta water if the sauce gets too thick. (I used it all.)

8. Turn off the heat, and stir in the parmesan until melted. Taste and add salt as needed.


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