wine night: homemade penne a la vodka

We've already discussed how vodka sauce is my favorite sauce for pasta (and risotto!).
But can you believe, a vodka sauce lover like myself had actually never made it from scratch?
I'm pretty happy with my Rao's or Newman's jarred versions.
But, I had to know...would homemade be better?

When looking for which homemade recipe to try, I obviously with to my imaginary BFF, Ina (we've previously discussed my love of her too).  
Per usual, Ina didn't disappoint!
I'd say my usual "make this for your Wine Night tonight!", but note that it does need to bake for an hour and a half.
So, make this for your Wine Night tonight! 
(As long as you don't mind eating at 9pm like us or if you happen to be able to start making this about two hours before normal chow time.)

Homemade Penne a la Vodka
Recipe slightly adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, 2009.
Total time:  2 hours
Serves:  8

  • 1 lb. penne pasta (you can use whole wheat, but I didn't for this test run), cooked to al dente.
  • 1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, mined
  • 1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes (I did a pinch more, as I like it hot!)
  • 1 1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 3/4 C. vodka
  • 2 cans (28 oz.) peeled San Marzano tomoatoes
  • 1 C. heavy cream
  • 1/2 C. grated reduced-fat parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large dutch oven over medium heat, add olive oil until hot.
  3. Add onions and garlic and cook about five minutes until translucent.
  4. Add red pepper flakes and dried oregano (rub the oregano between your palms as you put it into the pan, it releases more flavor) and cook for one minute.
  5. Add vodka and cook until mixture is reduced by half. 
  6. Add tomatos to the pan, crushing them with your hands while putting them into the pan.  Add 2 teaspoons salt and pinch of pepper.  
  7. Cover pan and place in oven for an hour and a half.
  8. Remove pan from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
  9. Using an immersion blender (I'm obsessed with mine), pulse the sauce until it is a smooth consistency. (If you don't have an immersion blender, slowly add the soup to a blender and puree -- be careful though, sauce is hot!).
  10. Once pureed, add heavy cream and mix until combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for ten minutes.  Toss pasta in and cook for 2 minutes more.  Stir in Parmesan and serve.

Servings:  8
Calories:  505
Carbs:  55 g
Fat:  21 g
Protein:  11 g


{photos by me}
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