Monday, August 3, 2009

Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce, Cherry Tomatoes & Peas

I had no idea what to make for dinner tonight. I was leaning towards pasta, but didn't want fettucini alfredo (too heavy), and didn't want just plan olive oil/sauteed onion sauce. I kind of walked in circles around the kitchen for a while, and then it hit me.

I have made this Rachael Ray vodka cream pasta for a long time; it was one of Rose's favorites, and is also something I enjoy, especially when I want some super fast and yummy pasta. But, after perusing my copy of The Silver Spoon, which is an Italian Bible of recipes (and includes directions on how to prepare things I may not ever be brave enough to eat, like tongue), I found another, better, tastier (albeit more fattening) way to make vodka cream pasta. It involves no crushed tomatoes, as Rachael's does, but instead uses tomato paste.

Here's a little improvement that I created tonight on the Silver Spoon vodka sauce: I added peas, fresh sliced cherry tomatoes (straight from Christy's garden, yummmmmtastic), and lots more butter. To quote Ina, how bad could that be? The answer: not bad at all.

penne pasta
salt & pepper
dried Italian seasoning
1/2 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup chicken stock
heavy cream (maybe 3/4 cup?)
frozen peas
cherry tomatoes, sliced (optional)
fresh parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt generously, and add penne. Cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat about 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Sautee onion, garlic, salt & pepper, and Italian seasonings until onions are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste, start to work/melt into the onion. Add vodka, combine well. Cook until liquid reduces by half, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, salt & pepper again to taste. Simmer gently, reducing heat. Add cream, stir. Add pats of butter to your heart's content, slowly stirring or whisking in each time. As soon as you're ready to add the pasta to the sauce (which is, at my house, as soon as it's done) throw in the frozen peas and tomatoes. Stir, simmer for about 3 minutes so that the pasta absorbs some of the sauce. Plate up, top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy.

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