Where did this dish ever come from? I’m not sure. I’ve never seen it in Italy — I think it might be an Italian-American concoction. And I didn’t know how to make it until very recently. I was stumped on the idea of the vodka. Vodka doesn’t taste like anything, so in a sauce, what does it add?
Turns out it adds lusciousness, and dimension, and –oddly–silkiness. I officially love it. Here’s my take on Tomato Vodka Sauce — nice and easy. And delicious!
BTW. I’m also in love with these Mutti cherry tomatoes in the can. So good! Picture your usual plum tomatoes in a can, except these are darling sweet cherry toms.
Pasta with Tomato Vodka Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, peeled & left whole
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup vodka, divided
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (in my dish here, I used instead: 1 14-ounce can whole cherry tomatoes in puree, and 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes)
1/3 cup heavy cream or half & half (you can a little more if like creamy)
1 lb. cut pasta, such as penne or rigatoni (I used garganelli here)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated parmigiano
In a large sauté pan or shallow pot, heat the oil, onion, and garlic until simmering. Add the butter. Let cook on a low heat until the onion is softened but not colored. Add about half of the vodka. Bring to a lively simmer until vodka is mostly evaporated. Add the tomatoes. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pasta pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt. Add pasta. Cook till al dente.
For the sauce, after ten minutes, add the cream or half and half, and the rest of the vodka. Let simmer gently for 8-10 minutes more.
When pasta is al dente, drain and add to pan with cooked sauce. On low heat, toss pasta with sauce to coat for about a minute or two. Transfer pasta to a serving bowl. Serve with grated parmigiano on the side.