There’s nothing like a home cooked meal to set the tone for a romantic date night. When you’re looking for an easy recipe that will impress the love of your life, there’s no better choice than a mouthwatering plate of pasta with vodka sauce. We’ll teach you how to make the best vodka sauce right at home so you can show off on your next anniversary or first date.
Step 1: Prep Your Ingredients
For this recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Penne or Rigatoni pasta (1lb box for easy prep)
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion
- 5 garlic cloves
- ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- ⅗ cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup of your favorite vodka
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 4 sprigs of basil
Dice your onion and garlic cloves and grate your fresh Parmesan cheese. We always recommend using freshly grated cheese because it gives the dish a wonderful creamy texture.
Step 2: Boil Pasta
Next, you should boil your pasta in a large pot of generously salted water. It should almost taste like the ocean, but try not to go overboard, as it is definitely possible to oversalt the water. Cook until al dente, keeping about a cup of the pasta liquid and straining the rest.
Step 3: Sauté Onions and Garlic
While the pasta is cooking, toss your diced onion into another pot or Dutch oven with your olive oil, cooking the onion over medium-high heat. Add a sprinkle of black pepper. Your onions shouldn’t be browned too heavily or become crispy – the goal is to sweat out all the moisture in your onions so you’re left with a lightly golden result. After about 3 minutes of cooking the onions, add your diced garlic and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.
Step 4: Add Tomato Paste and Crushed Red Pepper to Onions and Garlic
From here, you can add your tomato paste and ½ teaspoon of red pepper, reducing the heat and stirring occasionally. The mixture will slightly stick to the bottom of the part, but should not be burned. You want a thick consistency to the mixture, with the color a bit darkened.
Step 5: Add Vodka to Tomato Paste and Veggie Mixture
Once your tomato paste and veggie mixture has reached the optimal consistency, you’ll add the vodka to deglaze the pan, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. The brown bits have all the flavor, so don’t neglect them! Reduce the heat to prevent overcooking.
Step 6: Temper Heavy Cream with Pasta Water
Slowly add about a ¼ cup of your pasta liquid to the heavy cream, giving it a slight stir.
Step 7: Add Heavy Cream Mixture to Pot
Next, add the heavy cream mixture to the pot, stirring all the ingredients together until the final product reaches a smooth and creamy consistency. Check the flavor. If you prefer things a little more spicy, you can add more red pepper flakes and black pepper. Take the pot off of the heat.
Step 8: Combine Pasta, Grated Parmesan, and Sauce
Once your sauce is complete, you can add the cooked pasta to the sauce pot, combining it with half of your grated Parmesan and leaving the rest of the cheese to top your pasta once served. If you’re looking for a smoother sauce texture, you can add small amounts of the pasta water until you reach your preferred consistency.
Step 9: Serve and Enjoy!
Once all previous steps are completed, you’ll have the most incredible vodka sauce and scrumptious pasta. You can always save half of the sauce and freeze it if you’d prefer to make a smaller serving of pasta. Top your plate with more Parmesan cheese and some torn basil leaves for a fresh burst of flavor.
Though this dish is pretty easy to make, we won’t make you cook if you don’t want to. Come into Strega for a truly delectable meal and try our Cavatelli alla Vodka, which comes with a tender one pound lobster. Book a reservation today!