One of my all time favorite dishes is penne with vodka sauce (I also like to add shrimp, but I didn’t have any this time). If I find an amazing penne w/ vodka sauce at a restaurant, I get it every time I go back. The reason for that is because I was unsuccessful at making it that good at home, UNTIL NOW. I have been working on this recipe for years it seems and a few nights ago I finally got it right. So now all my efforts are yours for the making!
As some of you may know, I am not a measurer (unless baking) so some of these are approx. Always taste your cooking periodically and adjust the seasonings to your taste.
- 1 box penne (1 box for 4-6 people), half box for 2-3 people
- Small container heavy cream
- 1 large can petite diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 shallot, diced
- 4 TBSP butter (I never said this recipe was healthy!)
- 1/2 cup vodka
- 1 TBSP basil (you can use fresh if you have it)
- Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
- Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 3/4 package diced pancetta. I like this pre-packaged pancetta because it’s easy to work with. You can buy pancetta from the deli counter if you like, you’d probably need 1/4 lb and slice it into small pieces.
- Heat large pan on med-high heat and melt butter.
- Add pancetta and saute until crispy. Add garlic and shallot and saute for 1 minute.
- Add vodka and cook until reduced slightly, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add diced tomatoes, add basil, and start with 4 twists of salt and 6 of pepper (I can’t really tell you how much to use if you do not ground your s&p because that’s the only way I do it – but try starting with 1 tsp each).
- Start boiling your water for the pasta.
- Add tomato paste. Fill the tomato can 1/4 way with water and add. Mix well and do a taste test. The pancetta will add a salty flavor as it cooks, so if you think you need more salt at this point, wait until this cooks up for a bit before adding more. Your sauce should be pretty thick right now. If it’s too thick for you, add another 1/4 can of water. Let sauce simmer for about 5 minutes (and do another taste test).
- Add 1 cup heavy cream and continue to simmer until pasta is ready.
This is what the sauce looks like at this point – amazing, you want to dive right in!
Serve with my homemade garlic bread (recipe below). Enjoy!!
Making incredible garlic bread is so simple – so much better than frozen.
What you’ll need:
- 1 loaf Italian or French bread
- Spreadable butter
- Sea salt
- Garlic powder
- Spice combo (onion powder 2 tsp, paprika, oregano, basil 1 tsp each)
- Parmesan cheese
- Slice loaf in half lengthwise
- Heavily butter each half
- Lightly sea salt each half followed by a sprinkling of the spice combo
- Heavily sprinkle freshly grated parmesan cheese on each half
- Bake at 350º until nice and brown on top like below!