Once we'd purchased the vodka, however, I realized that Bloody Marys do not a dinner make. That, and a bottle of Nero d'Avola (my favorite wine) was sitting unopened on the table and calling my name. So, instead of drinking my vodka, I decided to cook with it instead!
Flipping through my favorite cooking bible, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, I lighted on a recipe for Creamy Vodka Sauce and, tweaking it a bit as is my way, it was not only a perfect accompaniment to the Nero d'Avola, but an easy meal the Vegetarian and I could both enjoy equally. Score!
Penne with Creamy Vodka Sauce
- Kosher Salt
- 1 pound penne rigate
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin, ground
- 1/8 teaspoon piment d'espelette
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once it has boiled, add the penne and cook until al dente, around 9 minutes.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it moves around easily in the pan, add onion and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, cumin and piment d'espelette. Cook 8 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in vodka and heavy cream and cook an additional 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Keep warm while penne finishes cooking.
When penne is cooked, drain and toss with the sauce, adding some of the cooking water if necessary. Enjoy!
Links to other vodka noshes: