Monday, April 12, 2010

Penne with vodka sauce and capicola

This one's an oldie from Eating Well, and the inspiration for making it was the usual: leftover something that I could put in it. This leftover was rotini. I know the title says "penne," but we'd cooked rotini, and that's what we had left over, so that's what we used.

The pluses for this recipe are that it's really lightning fast and comes out pretty tasty. The minus could be that with the red pepper and vodka zing, it may not be something the kiddies go for.

Ingredients were cooked pasta, 2 oz. capicola (pancetta would do as a sub, as would a good bacon, I think), a small onion, three garlic cloves, 0.5 c. vodka, a 28-oz. can of crushed tom-ah-toes, 0.25 c. of half'n'half, 2 tsp Worcestershire, crushed red pepper to your taste (the recipe recommends between 0.25 and 0.5 tsp), chopped basil (if fresh, recipe recommends 0.25 c; I used dried, at about a teaspoon). Pepper and salt to taste. I found that this one didn't require much extra salting.

Put the water for the pasta on to boil if you're not like me and already have some cooked pasta around.

Chop the capicola (or pancetta), the onion, and the garlic. Cook the meat to crisp, then set aside to drain. The recipe doesn't call for oil for the onion and garlic, but I found that they required it, so I added in a lug of olive oil and cooked these on just above medium heat until the onions were transparent and soft.

The fun part, as usual, is adding the alcohol. Jack the heat up to high and pour in the vodka. Enjoy the show, then let it boil until the volume drops by about half. Then add in everything else: cream, tomatoes, half'n'half, red pepper, basil (but see below), reduce the heat, stir, cook for about 10 minutes.

In the original recipe, the recommendation is to serve the sauce over the pasta with the cooked capicola added on top and the basil sprinkled on. I add the basil into the sauce itself, and I also added in the meat. We're not really a "set the table with garnishes" kinda group around here, so I wanted the sauce ready and waiting for when dinner time rolled around.

What we did garnish with was a really nutty, good Parmesan. Add in some rosemary baguette and a good leafy salad, and we had an enjoyable, fancy-seeming dinner involving big words like "capicola" and grownup things like vodka and that bit us back a bit as we ate it, and it only took about 15 minutes to throw together.

Bon appetit.


  1. I absolutely love vodka sauce and have never found a good recipe. Can't wait to try yours!!

  2. I'll take mine straight up...hold the pasta. ;-) Actually, my flavor-seeking son would adore this as much as my husband and I would. With GF pasta and CF creamer (coconut), of course. :-)

  3. Great. I meant to add, if you want a creamier sauce, um, just add more cream.

    Niksmom...I gotcha on the hold the pasta. That little half-cup of Tito's was totally calling my name, along with my good friends Olive 1, Olive 2, and Olive 3.