How to Make Vodka at Dinner Socially Acceptable: Penne Alla Vodka

I forgot the feta cheese, but you get the gist - Heaven in a bowl.

recipe adapted from: Skinny Kitchen

My last attempt at Penne alla Vodka went horribly wrong. Read: I didn’t heat the vodka off properly. So it tasted like we were eating pasta soaked in alcohol. After that experience I was tempted to swear off it all together and just start driving up to Le Vieux Four near Mount Tremblant whenever the yen for the creamy, ethanol-y, goodness struck. I had for some reason also vowed to give up on ever making a “healthy” version of the dish IF I ever tried again.

Race weekend though I didn’t have the time or energy to drive all the way to Mount Tremblant, but I needed to carb load, and the only thing that would do was penne alla vodka. And I hate the idea of waste, so having half a carton of cream that would inevitably be thrown out was not really on my priority list. So I searched Google for healthy penne alla vodka recipes, which usually means no cream. Turns out a lot of the recipes also interpreted this as no vodka either. At which point, they really should admit they are doing penne with a rosé sauce. A lot of the recipes called for Greek yogurt too, which I still associate with my last attempt to make penne alla vodka, so those were off the list. I finally found Skinny Kitchen’s Magnifico, Skinny Penne Alla Vodka. The recipe was fairly straight forward so I used it as my starting point, making a few tweeks as I went. It really is best to make sure all your ingredients are laid out for this, especially in the beginning because things go a little fast. The recipe serves about 5 people, and heats up very well the next day.

I forgot the feta cheese, but you get the gist - Heaven in a bowl.

I forgot the feta cheese, but you get the gist – Heaven in a bowl.

Ingredients:

This is what I started with, plus pasta, feta, and basil which I picked last minute from the plant

This is what I started with, plus pasta, feta, and basil which I picked last minute from the plant

  • 1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes, divided
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (I used colossal garlic so I used one), minced
  • 2/3 cup onion, minced
  • 2 tsp hot pepper flakes (less if you’re not big on spicy, this is totally optional)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup vodka (buy the good stuff, I swear it’s better)
  • 1 1/4 cup 1% milk
  • 3 tbsp herb and garlic cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • feta cheese and fresh basil to garnish
  • 5 cups penne (or any tube pasta)

Making it: (Bonus points if you can do like I did, and NOT get the tomato sauce on your white shirt)

  1. Start the water for your pasta and cook it while you’re doing everything else.
  2. Heat oil in non-stick pan on medium-high (don’t let the pan get too hot, or the tomato paste may stick), and add onion and tomato paste. Stir it around for a minute until the onions go kind of clear.
  3. Add garlic and hot pepper flakes and stir them around until translucent.
  4. Purée half the tomatoes and add to the pan with salt. Give it a good stir and remove from the heat to add the vodka. Once you’ve added said vodka and stirred it in, return the pan to the heat.
  5. Simmer for 8-12 minutes until the alcohol taste has burned off. Don’t rely on time exclusively for this – taste the sauce to make sure that you’re not doing shots for dinner.

    This is what you'll have before the milk and cream cheese are added

    This is what you’ll have before the milk and cream cheese are added

  6. Once the alcohol has burned off add in the milk and cream cheese, stir until the cream cheese has blended in really week and the sauce is hot. Add butter and stir until melted.

    After the milk and cream cheese are added you get something like this.

    After the milk and cream cheese are added you get something like this.

  7. Your pasta should be done and drained now. Put it into the sauce and stir to get it coated. Give it a few minutes to soak up the sauce and you’re basically done.
  8. Serve with feta and basil.
Add in Family, and you get something like this.

Add in Family, and you get something like this.

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4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Running, Eating, and Dog Tags | climbing the crazy tree

  2. Pingback: How To Fall In Love with Holiday Leftovers: Ham and Two Cheese Quiche | climbing the crazy tree

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