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Penne alla Bettola - Penne w/ Vodka and Spicy Tomato-Cream
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The vodka adds a tangy flavor to the tomato cream sauce

Patricia Wells' Trattoria cookbook 1993

Serves/Makes:6 or more

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 plump fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • sea salt
  • 1 28 oz (784 grm). can peeled Italian plum tomatoes in juice
  • OR
  • 1 28 oz (784 grm). can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1 lb (.5 kg). dried Italian tubular pasta, such as penne
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) vodka
  • 1 cup (225 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, snipped with scissors
  • In an unheated skillet large enough to hold the pasta later on combine the oil, garlic, crushed red peppers, and a pinch of salt, stirring to coat with the oil.
  • Cook over moderate heat just until the garlic turns golden but does not brown, 2-3 minutes.
  • If using whole canned tomatoes, place a food mill over the skillet and puree the tomatoes directly into it. Crushed tomatoes can be added directly from the can.
  • Stir to blend, and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 15 minutes.
  • Taste for seasoning.
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 6 quarts (5675 ml) of water to a rolling boil.
  • Add 3 tbsp (45 ml) salt and the penne stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking.
  • Cook until tender but firm to the bite; drain thoroughly.
  • Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the tomato sauce; toss.
  • Add the vodka and toss again, then add the cream and toss.
  • Cover, reduce the heat to low, and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb the sauce.
  • Add the parsley and toss again.
  • Transfer to warmed shallow soup/pasta bowls and serve immediately.
  • Traditionally cheese is not served with this dish.
A very tasty recipe from a very good cookbook. We've been making it since 1996 (I always make notes in my cookbooks!)

The cookbook suggests serving this dish with a Chianti Classico or a California Zinfandel.

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