Without fail, whenever we go to an Italian restaurant for dinner, someone in our family always orders penne alla vodka. It's a simple dish that really can't be beat. Honestly, we would probably all order this but we rarely order the same dishes when we are out for dinner! This recipe is perfect for an at-home Italian style dinner that comes together in just about 30 mins... how could you resist?! Using vodka in the sauce helps it to emulsify and bring out the flavours of the tomatoes and herbs. If you don't want to use alcohol, you can substitute it with water with a squeeze of lemon.
454 g box penne pasta
5 strips diced bacon
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
¾ cup vodka
2 cups crushed tomatoes
¼ tsp ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Save 1/4 cup of pasta water.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan sauté the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Drain most of the fat from the pan and then add the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes until onion is cooked through. Add the vodka and cook until reduced by half. Stir in tomatoes, 1/4 cup of pasta water and ground pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes until sauce thickens. Turn heat up to low and stir in cream. Add cooked penne and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Top with fresh basil and more cheese if desired.