Picks of the Week & Staycation Eats

Penne with Vodka Sauce

On any given day you can go on a mental vacation to anywhere you like and on most Sundays “Italian family-style dinner” is the dominating theme around here, today an easy dinner for a hot day was the goal.

One of the easiest pasta sauces and ready in about the same amount of time as it takes the pasta to cook is favorite around here especially on a 90º Sunday afternoon my sauce is not like many others, but I do prefer my sauce a little chunkier than most and I add a bit of carrot juice as a bit of a sweetener or you could add a whole carrot broken into large chunks to simmer in the sauce. There are several recipes to choose from and all are easy…similar recipe try Ina’s Pasta Vecchia Bertola, link below.

YaYa’s Vodka Sauce

1-28 ounce San Marzano whole tomatoes
a couple of pinches of red or Calabrian Chile flakes
salt to taste
3 tablespoons carrot juice
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup half & half or heavy cream for a slightly thicker sauce
1/2 cup finely minced onion
4 whole cloves of peeled garlic
fresh basil leaves
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon EVO0

1 pound penne pasta, cooked just under the recommended time on your package, and reserve 1 cup of pasta water

Pour the whole tomatoes into a bowl and hand squish. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan and when the butter has melted add the finely diced onions and the cloves of garlic. Stir and gently cook for about 1+1/2-2 minutes over medium heat.

Add the pinches of red pepper flakes, the squished tomatoes and all of their juices, stir, add about 1/2 teaspoon salt,
a few grinds of pepper, the bay leaf, and simmer over medium heat for about 12-15 minutes.

Taste for seasoning and toss in the vodka…cook for about 3 minutes, stirring.
Stir in the the cream or half & half. I add about a tablespoon of parmigiana just before tossing in the pasta.
Tear up some basil leaves over the top, add the cooked pasta, and a little of the pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Serve with additional grated cheese and more basil if you like…

I made a great Italian chopped salad that is easily adapted to your particular vegetable choice and simply dressed with a red wine, lemon, EVOO, and oregano dressing.

Make yourself and guests crazy for an appetizer that goes well with your favorite wine and serve a grilled flatbread piadina with homemade or store-bought grilled flatbread piadina…from Giada,