I’m sure I should be giving credit for variations of this recipe to a million different bloggers and cooks, but to be honest, I’ve been making it for so long I know longer remember where I first read about it at.
When I first started my MA course in England, this was one of the first dishes that I made in the home I shared with 4 other girls. I was the American in the house and we were all strangers who had chosen to room together because of facebook likes and emails through school servers. It could have been a recipe for disaster and in some ways it was- 3 of us moved out as soon as our lease would allow! But 2 of the girls remain my closest girlfriends here in England. This dish is a huge hit with them and Sam. Although he always asks me to double the recipe.
1 lb of pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
3/4 cup vodka
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
parmesan cheese, if desired
chopped parsley, if desired
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil and start cooking your pasta. While you pasta cooks, begin to make your sauce.
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until soft and golden brown (about 5 minutes). Then add your garlic and tomato paste, stirring to combine and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Stir in your diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, sugar and salt. Add in the vodka and raise the temperature slightly. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the alcohol flavour has cooked off and the sauce has reduced a little bit.
Reduce your heat to low and stir in the heavy cream. Salt and pepper to taste.
Once your pasta is done, gently fold it into the sauce. (Save a bit of the pasta water to loosen the sauce in case it is too thick once you add in the strained penne.) Serve topped with fresh parmesan and chopped parsley. I like to top mine with a few additional red pepper flakes as well!