I have a new camera! So it seemed to be the perfect time to start blogging again. Now that I’m home for the holidays I have access to quite a few more ingredients than usual. I’ve made this dish before but not since the last time I was home. The recipe was adapted from a Williams-Sonoma dish by another blogger who did an amazing job of tweaking it. I wanted to give it a bit more texture so I added some sweet Italian sausage. Most of the ingredients are relatively cheap for students, the only problem could be the vodka. Whether you’re in the US and haven’t turned 21 yet, or you’re in Sydney and the liquor is crazy expensive so you can’t bring yourself to use even a drop in your cooking (that was my issue), you only need 1/2 a cup so you may just be able to borrow some. Chances are your parents, older neighbours, friends in a fraternity, or your roommate’s secret stash will have just what you need. I also know that vodka sauce is one of the easiest things to just pick up in a jar at the supermarket but once you have a homemade version you’ll realize what you’ve been missing. The result is a very creamy, sweet sauce that coats the pasta, and with the soft onions and pieces of Italian sausage the meal becomes a hearty mix of sweet and savory. It is possible to leave out the vodka but it really brings out the flavour of the tomato so I wouldn’t recommend it.
Adapted from Cook Like A Champion
Serves 4 to 6
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves,
minced medium yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup vodka
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil, plus additional for serving
1 pound penne pasta
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus additional for serving
Directions: Cook pasta in well salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water, drain pasta and set aside.
Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in frying pan, remove the casings from the sausages, break into small pieces and cook until browned on the outside and cooked through. Drain on a plate covered in paper towels and reserve for later.
While the pasta and sausages are cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, about a minute more. Stir in tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the tomato paste and vodka. Cook until most of the alcohol has evaporated, at least 5 minutes. Stir in cream, red pepper flakes and salt. Bring to a a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook sauce until thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Stir in basil and cheese.
Add pasta and sausage to skillet and toss to coat, adding pasta water as needed to thin the sauce. Serve topped with additional basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Heavily adapted from Williams-Sonoma