I always used to love to order Penne ala Vodka in restaurants but I was never motivated to make it at home because the vodka just made it seem like it was too annoying to make- especially the thought of shlepping to the liquor store. I could not have been more wrong! Not only is it so easy to make but they sell vodka right here in the super market! If you are familiar with Israeli markets that should not really surprise you since they usually sell the most random things- you can find your frozen fish next to the display of kippot and your peanut butter next the to the kid's underwear (this is only a slight exaggeration).
I'm really not sure what the vodka does here but one thing I know is that it elevates a simple salsa rosa sauce to something spectacular. This is a pasta that needs to be sauced right before serving so if you are making it for chag I recommend making the sauce and keeping it hot on a plata until ready to serve and then tossing it with the pasta last minute. While the vodka is the "star" ingredient you don't need to use the best quality vodka to impart the great taste, any will do (obviously just avoid the flavored vodkas). Enjoy!
1/2 a stick of butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup vodka
270 grams 22x tomato paste + 2 1/2 cups of water - in America use a 28oz can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
salt to taste
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 lb penne pasta
Prepare the pasta and set aside. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan and add the garlic and onion and dried basil and cook for about 3-4 minutes until the onions are softened. Mix in the tomato paste and water, bring to a simmer and add the vodka cooking for a good 5 minutes until the alcohol evaporates and the sauce thickens slightly. Stir in the cream and salt and cook on low another few minutes until the sauce is significantly thickened. Turn heat to low and stir in the cheese. Add the pasta to the pot and mix together over the heat for 2 minutes until the sauce is absorbed.
(a totally under-sauced and anemic looking sample picture that is making me drool nonetheless)