Rachael Ray calls this her “You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta.” Although this is a bit of an exaggeration I will agree that it can make you a few friends for life who will ALWAYS want to come to your house for dinner. When made with roasted vine ripened tomatoes like those available right now it is hard to find a pasta sauce that has more flavor.
Garnish pasta with a chiffonade (“Made in rags” in French) of basil if desired. If you are unfamiliar with this knife technique you can find instructions HERE. I made a few changes to Rachael’s recipe and I encourage you to adjust it to your taste as well. I doubled the amount of tomatoes and added the step of roasting them in the oven…so worth the extra time it takes. I also added freshly grated Parmesan cheese just before serving. I did add a little extra cream…but I won’t tell if you won’t. If you would like to check out Rachael’s recipe you can find it HERE.
My vegetable garden gets smaller every year and I am finally down to several large pots of tomatoes. I had no idea how successful I would be with one yellow cherry tomato, one slicing tomato plant (a friend gave it to me who didn’t know the variety) and one Roma tomato plant. All I can say is that I have more tomatoes than I can use. The plants seemed to love their pots and produced abundant crops for weeks. I used a good potting soil and occasional waterings with a mild MiracleGro solution and that’s all the work required. I like Romas for sauces because they are a meaty tomato that has some body to it even after an hour and a half roasting in the oven. The flavor intensified and they get sweeter as they cook. My favorite recipe for oven roasted tomatoes with olive oil and herbs can be found HERE if you would like it.
Remove the stems and cut into quarters 4 pounds of tomatoes, preferably Romas. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, cover and roast in a 375 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours. The skins easily slip off at this point if you prefer removing them. Two 28-ounce cans of good quality canned whole tomatoes, drained, can be used if fresh aren’t available. Just season, cover, and roast the required length of time.
Combine the roasted tomatoes with the sauteed onion mixture and puree with an immersion blender. Mix in the cream, check seasonings, add to hot pasta along with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and serve. Be prepared to make friends for life.
This post is linked to FOODIE FRIDAY at Rattlebridge Farm
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, diced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 cup vodka
- 2 28-oz cans peeled tomatoes or 4-5 pounds fresh tomatoes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ pound penne pasta
- 4 tablespoons fresh basil,
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof saute pan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.
- Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve and crush them into the pan with your hands. Add 2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1½ hours. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
- I USED 4 POUNDS OF FRESH ROMA TOMATOES INSTEAD OF THE CANNED, CUT IN HALF AND DRIZZLED WITH OLIVE OIL. COVER THE PAN AND COOK FOR 1-1/2 HOURS.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Place the tomato mixture in a blender or food processor and puree in batches until the sauce is a smooth consistency. Return to the pan.
- Reheat the sauce, add 2 tablespoons fresh basil and enough heavy cream to make the sauce a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in ½ cup Parmesan. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh basil on each plate.