Sunday, February 20, 2011

Penne and Vodka Sauce

I know I haven't posted in a while but the last 7 days have been a little crazy!

For one, I went back to work.  After sitting around the house with my feet up for almost a month and a half after my foot surgery, it was a little tough to get back in the swing of things.

I also started physical therapy, which I expected to be painful - but no one said I was going to be gripping the side of the table, gritting my teeth, and stifling a moan while the therapist "worked" my big toes like the stick shift of a BMW.

I know, it has to be done, but it's not exactly pleasant.

Thirdly we are moving to another place in 2 weeks.  So on top of going back to work & going to therapy, I've been packing & moving boxes.

Like 99% of the population, I despise moving.  The end result is usually great, but the packing, carrying, and unpacking are all pretty brutal.

However, this weekend has been busy in a good way.  My best friend Lauren Vittles is staying with us, along with her awesome hubby Tyler and their ADORABLE 3 month-old Holt.

You remember Holt, from my visit to see them in South Carolina in December?

They arrived Friday evening and are staying until tomorrow.  Even though probably 60% of our house has already been moved or at the very least packed, I wanted to make them a nice dinner their first night here.

I decided on penne and vodka sauce (one of my personal faves) with garlic bread & salad.  Easy but delicious.

I find that 'penne & vodka' rarely turns out as well at home as it does in a restaurant, but I have to say this one is pretty awesome.

Penne and Vodka Sauce
  • 4 T. (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 C. heavy cream (I used a mixture of heavy cream and half &half)
  • 1/4 C. tomato paste
  • 1/3 C. plus 2 Tbs. vodka
  • 2 T. slivered fresh basil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes 
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. plus 2 Tbs. salt
  • 1 lb. penne or other tubular pasta
  • 1/2 C. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the 2 Tbs. salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Place drained penne in large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter with the cream. In a small bowl, dissolve the tomato paste in the vodka. Stir into the cream mixture. Add the basil and red pepper flakes. Season with the garlic powder & salt.

Cook until most of the alcohol has evaporated and the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5-7 minutes.  When ready to serve, remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted.  Add as much of the reserved cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.  Pour over penne in bowl, mix to combine, and serve. Serves 4.

Recipe Adapted from Williams-Sonoma 


  1. No one could resist this sauce. Yummy!

  2. You have a lot on your plate and I'm not talking about the photo above. Hopefully things will settle once you get completely moved into your new place. That pasta looks and sounds delicious! That has to be one of my favorite sauces. Yummy!

  3. Wow! You are still managing to blog?! Wow!!

    I LOVE vodka sauce but have never made it homemade. Yours looks divine!

  4. Glad to hear you're up and about again. This vodka sauce looks so rich and delicious, love it!

  5. I've never had a vodka sauce but I have always wanted to try one. Nothing is as comforting as a big pasta dish! This looks great. Im sure your friends were happy to have you make it for them.

  6. This looks sooo goood! the sauce looks so perfect and creamy!

  7. Love pasta with vodka sauce. Need some meatballs...

  8. I just love penne a la vodka! Your version looks so creamy and delicious!

  9. We love this easy dish, too...your photos have me craving a plate of it! Sorry about your foot...hoping you'll be good as new soon~

  10. Oh this looks fantastic!! I love giant bowls of pasta, and that sauce looks so rich and creamy. YUM! Hope that your PT gets better for you!

  11. Love that sauce! Why does everything with alcohol taste better? :)

  12. OMG, this looks yummy. I luvv Penna a la vodka. I can't wait to try your recipe.


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