Recipe: Vodka Tomato Cream Pasta

Friday, February 8, 2013

My go-to pasta recipe when I have company is a Vodka Tomato Cream pasta. It needs only a few ingredients and requires almost no technique so that you don't have to worry about messing up and cooking something that gets politely nibbled on.

Vodka Tomato Cream Pasta, such a easy recipe, make it to impress your friends or even for date night!

It's also a great lazy weekday dinner - it takes less than 30 minutes and most ingredients should be already stocked up in your pantry. I also like to add chicken or shrimp on top for a more hearty meal!


A few summers ago, a group of friends and I rented a beach house in Santa Cruz, CA for a quick weekend getaway. 20 hungry people. One roof. Of course I seized this opportunity to cook up a storm - including making a huge tub of this Vodka Pasta Sauce.

It's simple, start off by dicing up a bunch of onions and garlic. Then when you're ready, heat up a large pan and melt some butter and olive oil together. Throw your onions and garlic in and let it cook.

Cook until the onions soften and carmelizes

The next step, unfortunately, I didn't document in photos. It is honestly the most exciting part, and if you're doing it front of people, you might get a few oooooo's and ahhhhhh's. I'm talking about adding the vodka of course!

Add vodka and let it reduce by half. For this particular meal, we went the fancy route and used Belvedere, but only because that's what we had on hand. Usually I would say Smirnoff would be good enough.

I have to admit that back in my college days, I was on a budget and owned a dedicated bottle of popoff vodka for this recipe and my friends were none the wiser ;).

The cream really helps cut the tartness of the tomatoes and the tomatoes help you feel like your cream sauce is healthy.

Proceed to add crushed tomatoes, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes if you want to add some heat to it.  Simmer and just when you're about ready to serve, add heavy whipping cream.

As you're cooking the sauce, you should be cooking your pasta. This time I ended up farfalle bow-tie pasta because that's what we had. Usually people like penne pastas because it great when your sauce gets into the nooks of the long tube and helps deliver more sauce per bite - mmmmm... yum.

Notice the BOAT full of pasta we had
When you're ready, pour sauce into pasta

Usually I actually would throw the pasta into the sauce to let the sauce coat the pasta more and to cook off access water, but in this case, we just had too much pasta to do that.

And voila, there you have it! Add some fresh torn basil, top with parmesan cheese, and grub on.

I was very excited to see this HUGE dish at the beach house - it really helped make the whole thing more impressive :)

Vodka Tomato Cream Pasta


(makes enough for at least 4 servings with possible leftovers)
1 lb pasta of your choice, uncooked
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup vodka
1 medium onion, diced or 2 tbsp of diced shallots for a more mellow flavor
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
salt
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
basil leaves, torn (optional)

1. Prepare pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it lightly. Add pasta and cook to package directions, al dente; drain.

2. Cook onions, garlic & vodka. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat. As the butter melts, add the onions and garlics until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Once the garlic softens, add the vodka to deglaze the pan. The vodka should cook half way down, for about 4 minutes.

3. Add tomatos and season. Once the vodka cooks down, add a can of crushed tomatoes. Also add a few pinches of salt. Don't add too much now, you can add more after you add cream later. Also, if you want to add some heat to your sauce, add a 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper or more if you're like me and like things spicy. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Add cream. Adding cream should be your last step. Once you add the cream, be sure to reduce the heat enough so that the cream doesn't boil but warms up slowly so that it doesn't curdle. Add drained pasta to the pan, cook for another minute. Turn off heat, add torn basil leaves and serve.

Pro-tip:
 
If you're making dinner for 2 and don't want too much leftovers, stop at Step 3 and keep half of your tomato sauce in a separate container. The tomato sauce will keep for another 3-4 days in your fridge. Once you're ready to serve, add the other half of your cream and quickly whip up another fresh home-cooked dinner. However, even the pasta tossed in the cream sauce reheated in the microwave will taste amazing too!

Vodka Tomato Cream Pasta is one of the easiest and delicious weekday meal!

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