There is nothing more comforting or delicious to me than a big bowl of pasta. Spaghetti with meatballs, Fettuccine Alfredo, Carbonara…the list goes on and on! This one is special and unique because of its creamy pink sauce with a vodka finish. You don’t actually taste vodka, it is just a subtle something in the sauce that you know is there and it makes it extra special and sexy. (Yes, I just called a sauce sexy) Curl up on the couch with your favorite movie, person and /or pet and dig in to this delicious pasta with the sexy sauce!
You will need:
Kosher or sea salt
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Penne pasta (or your favorite short-cut pasta. Penne is great for this because the sauce cuddles up inside the tubes of the pasta)
4-6 garlic cloves, minced (depending on your preference, I used 6)
2 shallots, diced
Crushed red pepper, to taste
2-3 Tablespoons tomato paste
28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (I used one and a half)
3/4-1 cup vodka
Your favorite Sausage or ground turkey (this is optional. I used Spicy Italian chicken sausage from Trade Joes)
A cup or so of heavy cream
Fresh basil, torn
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Boil water for pasta. When water comes to a boil add salt until water tastes like the sea. Cook pasta as directed or about a minute shy of done if you wish to continue cooking in the sauce. When cooking pasta I always reserve a mug of the starchy cooking water in case the sauce needs to be thinned later.
Start by cooking the sausage as directed. I cooked the chicken sausage for 14 minutes on medium until lightly browned all over. Set aside.
In the same pan, add about 2 T olive oil and butter (if butter sizzles too much, lower heat to med-low) once butter is melted, add shallots, garlic and crushed red pepper. Stir occasionally to make sure it just sautés and softens but doesn’t brown or burn. Once shallots are soft (3-5 minutes) add tomato paste and stir. Let cook for a minute or so together.
Next, add your vodka and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Let vodka reduce by about half, it takes a few minutes so keep an eye on it.
Add your crushed tomatoes and a good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes or longer if you have the time.
Once your sauce has cooked the desired amount of time, reduce heat and add the heavy cream until your sauce is a beautiful pink color. Stir and try not to drool.
Taste for seasoning. You don’t want it too salty as the cheese will add more salty flavor once you add it. I cook my pasta shy of al dente and let the pasta cook with the sauce for a minute.
Cut up your sausage and add to the mixture.
Add as much or as little Parmesan cheese. I, of course, use a lot. Tear up some fresh basil, throw it on in and mix it all together. Taste again for seasoning.
Once I serve the pasta, I always add more grated cheese and basil. I added some shaved Parmesan as well. Now the fun part; dig in!! Enjoy!