penne with Hangar 1 vodka sauce

by Stevie on August 7, 2009

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Jasmine showing off the empty bottle of Hangar 1 vodka in our new dining room!

Jasmine showing off the empty bottle of Hangar 1 vodka in our new dining room!

Jasmine’s gone back to school lately. Good for her but too bad for the weirdcombos world as all of this added homework gives her less time for blogging! Just because she’s busy doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have time for a good time with food and drink. Prof. T’s away on business in Japan this week so we had Jasmine over to admire our newly painted living and dining rooms (What a nightmare! But now that it’s done, I think that it was totally worth it!) This gave her a break from all of her studies and gave us time to catch up, and show off a little, too ;).

I’ve made this penne alla vodka recipe many times. It’s originally from the New Joy of Cooking. Before I learned to make it, I always thought that it was wonderfully complex and probably too hard to prepare at home. In fact, the Joy says that it’s “elegant enough to begin a formal dinner.” Though maybe that’s an anti-Italian bias in the Joy, come to think of it? What’s wrong with other pasta dishes at formal dinners, anyway?!? I love serving Roman tomato pasta my way or Pesto American Style for parties. Well, whatever!

The classic recipe calls for heavy cream instead of soy milk. And really, any vodka will work. I’ve dropped the cream due to my cholesterol issue, now resolved with diet and weight control. If you don’t have that problem or are planning on serving the dish to company, perhaps at an elegant formal dinner party, you might try it as an alternative. We used Hangar 1, a popular, high-quality, Bay Area-produced vodka, because that’s what Jasmine had at home. Now that’s what I call ‘thinking globally and eating locally!’ I’ve stopped stocking up vodka as I just keep drinking it! Good thing that J doesn’t have that problem…

fresh Italian basil is critical to bring out the delicate flavors of this dish

fresh Italian basil is critical to bring out the delicate flavors of this dish

Penne with Hangar 1 Vodka Sauce

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
¼ cup Hangar 1 vodka or similar
28oz can crushed tomatoes
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
crushed red pepper to taste (about 1/8 tsp.)
½ cup soy milk
3 tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
1 small bunch fresh Italian basil, shredded
1 pkg. Penne cooked per directions on label

Heat olive oil in deep pan. Add onion and saute on medium until translucent (about five minutes). Add vodka and allow alcohol to boil off. You’ll smell this happening. Add tomato, salt and black and red peppers. Simmer for about five to ten minutes. Remove from heat. Using a stick blender (this is messy so wear an apron!) blend so that sauce becomes smooth without any tomato or onion chunks. Return to heat. Add soy milk. Cook for about five more minutes to warm completely. Just before serving, add basil, cheese and cooked penne. Toss together. Serve family style in a large bowl or plate individually. I like to sprinkle a bit more Parmigiano Reggiano on top and add a dash of finishing olive oil and a twist or two from the pepper mill. This is great with red wine or, of course, a vodka cocktail!

close up of finished penne alla Hangar 1

close up of finished penne alla Hangar 1

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Deby Wozniak August 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm

I made the recipe (with some help) but I didn’t like it. I accidentally got tomatoes with “Italian herbs” which made the flavor too strong for me.

Jasmine Turner August 20, 2009 at 9:20 am

Deby, I remember we has that when you were in town, and it was good. Stevie makes it even better and better every time!

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