Penne with Roasted Vodka Sauce

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The other day, I was watching The Barefoot Contessa, my favorite show on the Food Network.  In this episode she had a guest, that made his signature vodka sauce recipe.  It looked really, really good, so I thought I would give it a try!

The Recipe

1/4 olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup vodka
2-28 oz cans peeled plum tomatoes
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Heat the olive oil in large, oven-proof saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano can cook for another minute.  Add the vodka and continue cooking until reduced by half.

Drain the tomatoes through a sieve and, using your hands, crush them into the pan with the onions.  Add 2 tsp salt and a pinch of black pepper.  Cover the pan with a tight lid and place in a 375 degree oven for 1-1.5 hours.  Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

Place the tomato sauce in a blender and puree until the sauce is a smooth consistency.  Return to the pan.  Reheat the sauce and add the fresh oregano and enough heavy cream to make the sauce creamy.  Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add parmesan cheese.

Serve over pasta.
Is it a Keeper?

Well, I have to say that it was pretty awesome!  My husband told me it was even better than his favorite Italian restaurant’s vodka sauce!  I don’t know if it was the oven roasting or the fresh oregano, but this sauce was divine!  It was thick and creamy and perfectly seasoned.

I will say that the original recipe called for 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper (which is what I used when I made this recipe) and it was quite spicy.  Too spicy for my 4 year old — although he managed to gobble down half before he realized it was too spicy!  I trimmed the crushed red pepper back by half in the recipe above.

This was a simple sauce to make, but it did take a bit of time.  I think next time, I will make a double batch, and then, after it’s pureed, I will freeze half and save it for another meal.  When I’m ready to use it, I’ll thaw it and continue with the recipe above.

This sauce will also be great with risotto!  I think I’ll add shrimp and peas to the risotto too!


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5 thoughts on “Penne with Roasted Vodka Sauce”

  1. I love Penne a la Vodka with chicken – I know I could cook the chicken seperately – but I’m wondering when it could be added to pick up the right amount of sauce flavoring? Any ideas? (Sorry – not a whiz in the kitchen).

    • I would add the cooked chicken to the sauce during the last 10 minutes of cooking — when you’re finishing the sauce off. I hope this helps! Good luck!

  2. ‘drain tomatoes thru a sieve’ — are we using the drained juice as part of the recipe, or just the tomatoes? Just want to be sure before I try to make this…

    Barb :~)

    • I didn’t use the tomato juice. I drained them completely and just used the tomatoes.

      Good luck! And, be sure to let me know how you make out! 🙂

  3. Once upon a time, I bought the refrigerated Vodka sauce just to see if I would like it before I made it. Have seen many recipes, but I think this one tops them all.Must try it, and then pass the recipe on. Some of Ina’s recipes are great repeaters like her scampi.


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