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Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce

April 16, 2010

I can eat pasta everyday of my life.  Light and healthy or rich and creamy, I’ll take it.  And I’ve done it, too, for three weeks at a time on our trips to Italy.  Lunch, dinner, maybe even breakfast if it were served then.  On the way home, vanity taps me on the shoulder and whispers in my ear the consequences of such indulgent feasting.  So I’m a few pounds heavier by then–each and every time, it’s been worth every bite.

In real life, however, I would typically serve pasta about twice a week, and as much as I like heavy sauces, my husband doesn’t.  This vodka sauce makes for a happy compromise because it’s still a red sauce but made a little richer with cream.  I’ve only made this sauce a couple of times, taking inspiration from a few different recipes–here’s my take on it.

Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce

  • 1 32 oz can diced (or crushed) tomatoes
  • 3-4 cloves chopped garlic
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (a pinch or two, depending how hot yours is)
  • Olive oil for sautéing
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup vodka
  • Seasoning: salt/pepper and/or your favorite seasoning blend (I like Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
  • Chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 pound rigatoni or penne

Prepare pasta according to directions.  While the pasta is boiling sauté the garlic and crushed red pepper in the olive oil over medium heat.  Don’t let the garlic brown as it will get bitter.  After about a minute, add the can of tomatoes and season.  Let this simmer for a few minutes.  Add the vodka and let simmer again for about 15 minutes, allowing the sauce to lose some acidity and reduce a bit.  Finally, add the cream and simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the pasta to the sauce.  I use a little less cream than most recipes call for because I don’t like it to overpower the sauce.  Toss in some of the chopped parsley, add the pasta and plate.  I like to sprinkle cheese on top and add lots of freshly grated black pepper.

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