This is my favorite, go-to, throw-it-together at the last minute and have people over dish! I almost always have the ingredients on hand and it is ready in 30 minutes! In fact it’s so quick and amazingly delicious you’d think it takes hours to prepare, but it doesn’t, and I’m so glad it’s fast, because it’s on our menu on a regular basis.
This meal is deeply satisfying, it’s wonderful in the summertime because you aren’t heating up the house; throw on some fresh basil from your garden and you’ve got dinner. Or make it in the winter when you need some delicious comfort food, spring and fall, you bet! Manga! Whenever you decide to make it, you won’t be disappointed!
What a 4th of July! It was classic; hot, beautiful blue skies, burger smells all over the neighborhood, in fact I think one cul-de-sac roasted a pig! We so enjoyed our time in our neighborhood with fun runs, bike races, our own little home grown parade (complete with Pinzgauer’s and police cruiser and firetruck), a huge picnic and the best of all, the pool games! Starts with the penny dive for kids, then on to the boat races, finishing up with the grand finale – belly flop contest! That’s quite a show that belly flop contest, ouch. We came home for a shower and rest, I convinced my husband to sit down with me in the middle of the day and watch Independence Day, there are some great quotes in that movie! “You and me, we’ve got to work on our communication!” We finished off our evening sitting in the cul-de-sac with some friends letting our kids light our (legal) fireworks. I hope you enjoyed your 4th of July, our Independence Day! Let Freedom Ring!
But back to our recipe, this would actually be a great though different meal for the 4th since it’s a beautiful red color!
I generally have the ingredients on hand, the one that I might have to pick up is the heavy cream (you make it with light cream, probably, but why would you?) and the fresh basil. I almost always have tomatoes and parmesan on hand!
TIP: You know you can freeze cheese right? Especially hard cheeses, they freeze beautifully. Wrap tightly in wax paper and then in plastic wrap, then store in freezer storage bag in freezer. Allow to thaw and you have fresh cheese every time.
Start by throwing your butter into a larger pan, melt and add your red pepper flakes, add more if you like more heat, but as I’ve stated I’m a wimp and just like a touch of heat. Start water boiling for penne.
Next, carefully pour in your vodka, it will boil violently initially, allow to boil down and simmer for a few minutes until reduced about half.
Add your crushed tomatoes…
And your cream, stirring gently to combine.
Add seasoning salt, stir to mix and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Sometimes, I want a bit more protein for my family, so if desired, add cooked meatballs or Italian sausage to the sauce and bring to simmer. Great time to add your pasta to the boiling water and boil according to package directions, al dente.
While simmering, chiffonade your basil, remember to rinse it, stack the leaves, roll them and slice into thin slices something like this…
Drain your cooked pasta…
Once sauce and meat is heated through, add additional seasoning if desired.
Return your pasta to the pot and pour several scoops of sauce over pasta, mix to combine…this makes a lot of sauce, sometimes we won’t use a whole lb of pasta so I’ll reserve and freeze the leftover sauce so I have another quick meal for sometime in the future.
Toss in basil and grated cheese, stir to combine.
Serve immediately with a crusty loaf of bread, crisp green salad and a crusty teenager…no? Oh, well okay my crusty teenager loves this dish though and I’ll keep him, even though he eats with his elbows on the table and doesn’t put his bread in his bowl. We’re raising wolves here!
Serve hot with extra shaved cheese, grind a little additional salt and pepper if desired.
- 7 tablespoons butter
- ½ - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more depending on desired heat)
- ¾ cup vodka
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (or whole tomatoes and use immersion blender to mix)
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon seasoning salt (like Lawry's)
- 8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
- 4 oz parmesan cheese, grated or shaved
- Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
- Melt butter in a large skillet.
- Start 4 its of water to boil in separate pot for pasta
- Stir in red pepper flaks and vodka, vodka will boil violently.
- Allow to simmer for 2 minutes.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes and cream.
- Simmer 5 - 10 minutes
- Add seasoning salt and stir well.
- If desired, add cooked meatballs or Italian Sausage pieces for extra protein.
- Cover and simmer until warmed through.
- While simmering, cook pasta according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking; chiffonade or chop of your basil.
- Grate your parmesan cheese.
- Drain pasta and return to pot.
- Scoop desired amount of vodka sauce over penne and stir until desired coating.
- Toss in basil and parmesan, mix gently.
- Serve immediately with fresh parmesan grated on top, along with a few grinds of salt and pepper if desired.
- Delicious served with crusty Italian bread, garlic bread and a crisp green salad.