When Alec and I first started dating in college in 2011, I invited him over for dinner at my house by campus. This wasn’t a way to show him how domesticated I am or how much I love being in the kitchen. This was obviously a ploy to ensure he enjoyed pasta and cheese as much as I do. You know, as one does. Let’s be honest, if he didn’t like pasta, it would’ve been a serious deal-breaker. Luckily, he passed the test and this farfalle alla vodka I made that night has become the dish we make for our anniversary every year!
Vodka sauce is a creamy, tomato-based pasta sauce most commonly paired with farfalle or penne. The vodka enhances and releases flavors in the tomatoes and acts as an emulsifier, keeping the cream from separating in the acidic tomato sauce. More importantly, this sauce tastes just as good sopped up with fresh bread as it does on pasta!
Farfalle Alla Vodka
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 oz pancetta, cubed
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
Fresh ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup vodka (I use Absolut, but please, nothing in a plastic bottle)
1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes in juice, crushed
1 cup Half & half
A few fresh basil leaves, julienned
1 lb farfalle
Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
In a deep pan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onions and pancetta. Once the onions are translucent and the pancetta is crispy, add the chili flakes, salt, pepper, and garlic and cook until the garlic is soft and fragrant.
Slowly add the vodka and stir the ingredients. Carefully add the tomatoes and juices to the pan and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, cover the tomatoes and reduce to a low-medium heat. After 10-15 minutes, uncover and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Carefully stir in the half & half and cook for an addition 5 minutes. Once the sauce thickens, stir in the basil and additional salt and pepper to taste.
In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil and cook the farfalle until al dente. Drain the farfalle and reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water. Add both the 1/2 cup of pasta water and the farfalle to the pan with sauce and stir until the pasta is completely coated.
Serve in bowls and dust with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Enjoy!
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