Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday Dinner

I doubt that I will ever be able to capture a neat and orderly dinner table. You know, the kind where everything matches and everyone looks crisp... Besides, most happy families are messy, right? {I know mine is.}

Sunday Dinner: Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola- fancy for penne with vodka sauce
Courtesy of Ina Garten/ Food network

1/4 cup good olive oil

1 medium Spanish onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, diced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 cup vodka

2 (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3/4 pound penne pasta

4 tablespoons fresh oregano

3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream

Grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof saute pan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.

Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve and crush them into the pan with your hands. Add 2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and set aside.

Place the tomato mixture in a blender and puree in batches until the sauce is a smooth consistency. Return to the pan.

Reheat the sauce, add 2 tablespoons fresh oregano and enough heavy cream to make the sauce a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh oregano on each plate.

I kept last night simple pairing the pasta with a fresh baguette and a mellow red table wine. However, next time I'll add a dark green salad, pancetta appetizer and make a tiramisu for desert.  {Maybe I'll even triple the ingredients and invite friends over - it's that good-} This is one of those recipes that doesn't need to be altered. It's a bit time consuming but if you follow the directions, you will have the most amazing vodka sauce -ever-. My second oldest, the pickiest eater in the universe, went for seconds. When this happens, I know I've got a winner.

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