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Penne Alla Vodka

Penne Alla Vodka
It’s anybody’s guess whether this dish is really Italian or not. Some claim the dish was invented at Dante’s, a restaurant in Bologna, Italy. Luigi Franzese, a chef at New York’s Orsini restaurant in the 1970s is also sometimes credited. But other sources relate that a certain James Doty, a graduate of Colombia University, was the originator.
While its origins are murky, the flavor is not.
I’ve never seen it on a menu in Italy, but it’s certainly ubiquitous here in the states and for good reason — it tastes delicious.
It’s also perfect for the home cook owing to its ease of preparation. The whole dish comes together in less than 30 minutes.
It’s also perfect for those of you thinking of meatless dishes to prepare for Lent.
So what are you waiting for?
Pour yourself a Bloody Mary, but set aside a little of that vodka for Penne Alla Vodka.

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Penne Alla Vodka
printable recipe here1 lb. penne pasta

2 T. olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
3 cloves garlic
4 cups tomato sauce (1 lb. 13 oz. can)
1/2 cup vodka
salt, pepper
red pepper flakes
1/4 cup cream
fresh basil, minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for the table.Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until wilted. Add the tomato sauce, vodka, salt, pepper and a little of the basil, saving some whole leaves to decorate with at the end.
Cook the sauce over high heat until it starts to “sputter,” then lower immediately to a simmer for about 15 minutes to a half hour, stirring occasionally.

Bring the water for the pasta to a boil, adding salt. Dump the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to package instructions.

While the pasta is cooking, stir the cream into the sauce at low heat. When the pasta is al dente, drain it from the water and add it to the pot with the sauce. (I like to take out a little sauce from the pot in case it is too much sauce for the pasta. I don’t like my pasta to be “swimming” in sauce – just dressed lightly. You can always add it back in if it’s not enough).
Stir the pasta into the sauce while you have it over a simmer, until the sauce is permeated through the pasta. Turn off the heat and add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
Serve with more grated cheese at the table.

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. Well, just like wine, we have to taste the vodka first to make sure it hasn't spoiled before using it in the sauce. Your dish is making my mouth water and I already ate lunch. No matter who created it, I'll toast them, with vodka or with wine. I'll have to try your version, Linda. Have a Happy Valentine's Day:-)

  2. Ha!
    I really thought it was invented in New Jersey…..cause I grew up eating it and it's in the Soprano's Cookbook…….
    I haven't made it in years, I always made it for Henry when we were newlyweds w/ peas and prosciutto…..I will have to revisit (we always have vodka in the house!).

  3. PS Marisa, vodka does not go bad like wine…….if opened, it can evaporate (after about 2 years….) but never will "go bad".
    It would take 10 years or so for it to lose it's flavor….


  4. As a Jersey girl I too though its origins hailed from the Garden State. You are right about the fact that regardless of origin, it is absolutely divine.

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