I participated in a recipe swap last week - the focus was on pasta recipes. I was given a recipe for Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola shared by the author of the blog, So Tasty, So Yummy. Here is a link to all of the recipes shared in the pasta swap.
When I first read the recipe title I had no idea what it was, but as I read the recipe, I got really excited. A slow cooked vodka sauce, made in the oven?? I was intrigued. The recipe starts off with about 20 minutes of active cooking, then cooks in the oven for 90 minutes, then finishes with another 5 minutes of active cooking, so it is really pretty easy. And the mouth-watering smells that will come from your kitchen for those 90 minutes make it all worth it!
I followed the recipe almost exactly. Any changes are noted in italics below.
- 1/4 c good olive oil
- 1 medum Spanish onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 c vodka
- 2 28-oz cans whole peeled plum tomatoes
- Kosher salt (used 2 pinches)
- Freshly ground black pepper (used just 4 turns of the pepper mill)
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 4 tbsp fresh oregano, roughly chopped
- 3/4 to 1 c heavy cream
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Added: pinch of sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof saute pan (I used my Dutch oven) over medium heat; add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until transluscent. Add the garlic, 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 (about 5 minutes).
- Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve, then crush them into the pan with your hands (once the vodka mixture has reduced by half). Note: I saved the tomato juices because I thought I might need them later on. I ended up adding about 1/2 c of the juices to the sauce at the end).
- Add salt and black pepper. Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. This is when I actually placed it over low heat and added 1/2 c of the tomato juice.
- Cook the pasta, drain.
- Place the tomato mixture into a blender and puree in batches until the sauce is a smooth consistency. Return to the pan. Note: I used my handheld immersion blender and roughly pureed it in the Dutch oven. I still had a few chunks, which I like.
- Reheat the sauce, add 2 tbsp fresh oregano, and enough heavy cream to make it a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add Parmesan cheese. At this point I tasted it and it was very tangy, so I added a pinch of sugar.
- Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Note: I did not toss the pasta in the sauce. Instead I let everyone take the sauce they wanted. Every can then garnish with more Parmesan and fresh oregano.
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