If you look in our cabinet right now, we have enough liquor to supply an Army. I’m not even sure why we have so much. We don’t really drink it that often. It just sits there hogging all the cabinet space. If you, too, struggle with bottles and bottles of stagnant liquor, consider throwing it in your dinner! And even better, throw it in your pasta! It may be expensive for this application, but are you really going to drink it?
Young & Broke
My husband and I got married and had a baby in college. I had already graduated from college, but my husband still had almost 2 more years of undergrad at Clemson. We were super young and super broke. We had a tiny duplex, one car, one baby, two dogs, and no money. But it worked out somehow. Cooking kept us happy when life was hard. We both developed a love for cooking separately that we cultivated together once we married. Instead of coming home and crashing, we binge watched The Chew and cooked meals every chance we got.
One of my favorite personalities on the show was Mario Batali. He made Italian food and that is why I loved him. His recipes spoke to me. This penne alla vodka recipe is inspired by Batali’s version on The Chew that takes me all the way back to our duplex days. My husband and I ate it so much that when he got a new job, we took a long break from this recipe. Not because it didn’t taste amazing, but because we were on a budget and made it too much!
Cheap, Easy & Tasty
This pasta’s got it goin’ on. Everything you’re looking for in a weeknight meal. Low cost, simple prep, and absolutely lip-smackin’ delicious. Not only that, but quick clean-up is the cherry on top. Just a few ingredients, one pan, and one spoon. It’s great for anyone on a budget, or not. The most expensive ingredient is the vodka, but good for you if you already have some in your pantry. Not only will you save money making this pasta, you’ll also save time. And that’s almost better than money, in my opinion. The best part is obviously how darn tasty this pasta is. It’s hard to believe such little effort and few ingredients can turn into magic. You’re going to flavor town.
Here’s a few pro tips: If you’re fresh out of vodka, use Tequila instead if you have some on hand. It tastes just as great! And whatever you do, save the pasta water. You’ll want to add a ladle full to the pan right after you throw the pasta in. It helps the sauce stick to the pasta.
Penne Alla Vodka Recipe
1/2 lb bacon, cut into lardons
1 shallot, small diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 lb penne pasta
1 tube tomato paste
1/4 c vodka or tequila
3/4 c heavy cream
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp butter
Cook bacon in large pot over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon onto a paper-towel lined plate. Remove all but 2 Tbsp of bacon grease from the pot. Add shallot and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute or until rust-colored and caramelized. Deglaze the pan by adding vodka and scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add heavy cream and red pepper flakes and stir. Add butter and stir until melted. Take pan off the heat and set aside.
Fill a large pot 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil. Salt the water with 3 Tbsp of salt. Add penne and 3 minutes less than the package directions. The last few minutes of cook time, place vodka sauce back over medium heat. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce. Add 1/2 a ladle of pasta water. Keep adding more pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce. Cook until pasta is al dente. Add bacon and toss. Spoon pasta into bowls and top with Parmesan shavings and torn basil. Serve immediately.