Luxurious Pasta With Vodka Cream Sauce

pasta and vodka cream sauce

If you want mid week rave reviews on a dinner served or if you just want to wow your guests with something special, this is the dish for you! Serve them this luxurious pasta with vodka cream sauce.

This sauce tastes like you spent hours cooking it on the stove, but you really didn’t. It has a deep, rich flavor with a silky and luxurious texture that coats the pasta inside and out in every groove.

Speaking of pasta I recommend using mezzi rigatoni, it’s the shorter version of traditional rigatoni, go for the one with the ridges.

Don’t get me wrong you can use other shapes, I’ve made it with penne pasta before, but my heart belongs to mezzi!

vodka sauce ingredients

Get yourself a bottle of vodka that has a nice smooth character to it, you don’t want to use anything too harsh. Right now I’m enjoying Trader Joe’s TX vodka it’s 6 times distilled and it really pairs well with this sauce. (not sponsored).

Have your ingredients ready to go and your salted water boiling and you’re on your way to a fantastic meal!

saute onions and garlic

Onions and garlic are the foundation to this sauce but the star of the show is tubed tomato paste!

tomato paste

Triple concentrated tomato paste to be exact, this is the game changer to this recipe! No more cans of tomatoes, no more doctoring up a marinara sauce with cream, no chopped tomatoes added, nothing!

Triple concentrated tomato paste is the secret ingredient!

deglazed

Let the tomato paste cook down a bit, then you’ll deglaze it with the vodka. Now is the time to start cooking your pasta.

heavy cream

You’ll be adding pasta water and heavy cream together stirring and stirring until it reaches a vibrant pink color.

 

creamy sauce

Like this!

pasta

Now add in your pasta (al dente) and incorporate all that sauce with the pasta really well.
sprinkling cheese

Shut the burner off and sprinkle in the cheese and toss gently.

pasta and vodka sauce

Now get a big scoop so you can fill your plate!

pasta

Add more cheese of course and a sprinkling of parsley, after you take one bite you’ll know exactly what I mean.  This sauce is to die for!

You’ll want to make it often and the best part is that it comes together so quickly, so make sure you have a full bottle of vodka and tubes of tomato paste on hand.

If you want to go all out and show off a little, you can sear up a few scallops to have on the side, but honestly a little green salad would be perfect!

pasta and sauce

You need this in your life!

eaten pasta

Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Luxurious Pasta With Vodka Cream Sauce
 
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ lb. mezzi rigatoni with ridges, or penne with ridges
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 oz. triple - concentrated tomato paste in a squeeze tube
  • ¾ cup of grated parmesan cheese, more for plated garnish
  • 2 oz. vodka ( smooth character )
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup or so of reserved pasta water
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. Start your water boiling for the pasta, make sure it's salted
  2. Have all your ingredients ready to go.
  3. Drizzle olive oil into a heavy bottomed pan.
  4. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion starts to brown around the edges, could take 5 or so minutes.
  5. Squeeze tomato paste in along with red pepper flakes.Sir well until the paste coats the onion.
  6. Continue stirring until the paste reaches a deep red color and starts to brown on the bottom of the pan, around 5 or so minutes.
  7. Add the vodka and deglaze the pan, stirring to incorporate, reduce heat to low.
  8. Using a heatproof measuring cup scoop ¼ cup of the boiling water from the pot, then add all the cream to the hot water, this will temper the cream so it doesn't break when added into the sauce.
  9. Slowly add the warm cream into the pot, stirring to incorporate.
  10. Remove from heat for a few minutes.
  11. Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook it al dente according to box instructions.While pasta is boiling, add a little pasta water so it's not so thick.
  12. Reserve a good cup of the pasta water to add to sauce to thin out later if needed.
  13. When cooked, transfer the pasta into the sauce pot using a spider (as pictured in post).
  14. Toss everything together, adding pasta, then the grated cheese, plus enough of the pasta water to have the right consistency.
  15. Sauce should be smooth, glossy and coating each piece of the pasta, not runny.
  16. Toss in some chopped parsley.
  17. Garnishing each plate with a drizzle of olive oil, cheese and more parsley.
  18. Enjoy!

 

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Ham Bone Split Pea Soup

split pea

Let’s face it, most families don’t often make a bone in, baked ham on their weekly rotation of meals, but on special holidays it’s often the star of the show.

Thanksgiving was a just a few days ago and ham was on the menu at my sister-in-laws house. Since she didn’t feel like doing anything with the ham bone she wrapped it up, rang my doorbell and gifted it to me!

ham bone

Lucky me, there was still a lot of meat left on the bone so split pea with ham was surely going to happen! If you’ve never made split pea using a ham bone, you’re missing out. It gives it a ton of flavor and elevates the soup to another level, even pea haters love this soup!

sofrito

Just a few ingredients to start the soup off, then it’s a nice slow simmer so all the flavors can meld together.

making soup

Grab a big pot with a lid and nestle the ham bone right into the center, then in a couple of hours you’ll be able to pick the meat off the bone.

pot of soup

As you stir the soup while it’s simmering the peas will break down and become nice and creamy!

split pea

Just the smell of of this soup simmering on the stove makes your home feel all comfy and cozy, it’s such a hearty and satisfying soup.

croutons

Keep in mind, you need something crunchy on top for garnish. So if you have any leftover bread, please make your own croutons. I had some leftover ciabatta bread that I cut up in cubes, drizzled it well with olive oil, then sprinkled it with salt and pepper then into a 400 degree oven til nice and golden.

hearty soup

Crunchy croutons on top of such a hearty, creamy, smokey, meaty delicious soup, I could go on and on!

There are many variations of this soup, some add potatoes ,but I don’t think you need them at all. Some add bacon instead of a ham bone, it may be good, but it’s just not the same. There are vegetarian versions but today we’re not going there. Try this once with a ham bone and you’ll be hooked!

Ham bones freeze well so if you don’t feel like making this right away, tuck it into your freezer for when you do.

And lastly this soup freezes well, so don’t be afraid to make a big batch!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Ham Bone Split Pea Soup
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 meaty ham bone, make sure to leave meat on that bone
  • 1- 1lb. bag of green split peas, rinsed well
  • 1 quart of chicken stock, low sodium
  • 5 cups, water ( more to thin out soup if it thickens too much later)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 6 thyme branches, stripped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • olive oil
  • good knob of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Homemade croutons for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot with lid, drizzle the bottom with olive oil and add the knob of butter.
  2. Throw in the chopped onion, carrots, celery and garlic, saute til soft.
  3. Add the split peas and stir well.
  4. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves along with the 2 bay leaves and a grind of black pepper.
  5. Hold off on the salt until the end for taste because some hams tend to be saltier than others.
  6. Pour in the chicken broth then nestle the ham bone right in the center.
  7. Add additional cups of water, stirring well, then bring it to a boil, reduce, and let it simmer with lid on almost covered completely.
  8. Cooking times vary somewhere between an hour and a half to 2 hours, mine took almost 2 hours on very low. The peas will break down and get nice and creamy
  9. Keep checking and stirring.
  10. When you start to see the meat falling off the bone, remove the bone, let it cool a little then start picking the meat off and placing the shredded meat back into the pot.
  11. Discard bone.
  12. Taste for salt, pepper and thyme, adding more if needed. Always stirring to check for thickness.
  13. If need be, add a little more water for a looser soup. It's up to you on how thick you want your soup.
  14. Garnish with homemade croutons.
  15. Use a hearty style bread, cut into cubes, drizzled with olive oil, black pepper and a touch of salt.
  16. Place into a 400 degree oven until crispy and golden, it goes fast so keep checking.
  17. Enjoy!

 

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Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage and Brown Butter

squash gnocchi

Thanksgiving isn’t all about the turkey, yes turkey is all well and good, but to me Thanksgiving is all about the sides! One of my favorite sides are these butternut squash gnocchi.

I’ve been serving them for years at my Thanksgiving table. I normally make them a week or two ahead of time and have them tucked in my freezer until turkey day.

They may be small in size but not in flavor, they’re slightly sweet with the rich flavor of parmesan cheese running through every tender bite.

roasted squash

You start out by roasting your squash, roasting the squash adds to the depth of flavor, when tender and soft cool it down and then scoop out the pulp.

Next you’ll toss it into a food processor until it becomes nice and smooth without any lumps.

forming gnocchi

What I’ve learned over the years is that after processing the squash you’ll see that the squash holds onto some moisture, so a good thing to do is to toss the pureed squash into a sauce pan and cook it down until you see the moisture disappear, maybe five or ten minutes. When you cook some of the moisture out you won’t have to keep adding flour, which in turn could make them too heavy and doughy.

Then you’ll want to make sure to cool the mixture down completely before you start mixing in the flour and other ingredients.

NOTE: I always test my gnocchi before I form all of them. I boil a few just to see if they stay together, this will ensure you that your mixture is sturdy enough and they won’t fall apart and become mushy in the water. Sometimes you might have to add a little more flour. This is a very important step!

 

making gnocchi

No doubt making gnocchi is a labor of love but I can tell you it’s worth every bit of the time it takes, and remember you can make them ahead at your convenience.

butternut squash gnocchi

There is no ricotta or potato added to these gnocchi, it is straight up butternut squash that’s permeating  throughout these tender bundles.

boiled gnocchi

Gnocchi take very little time to cook, always place them into salted boiling water, as soon as they float up to the top they’re basically done. Never ever pour them into a big strainer, you need to hand scoop them out like shown in thee picture above. Gnocchi are very delicate.

pan of gnocchi

A quick toss into toasty brown butter flavored with frizzled sage, if you want you can add a touch of pasta water to loosen the sauce up a bit.

Brown butter sauce is the perfect compliment to these delicious gnocchi!

Thanksgiving plate

My Thanksgiving plate from years past where’s there’s always room for the butternut squash gnocchi, and I should say that the leftovers are just as good the next day!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Parmesan, Sage and Brown Butter
 
Butternut squash with hints of parmesan in every tender bite!
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE GNOCCHI
  • 1 large butternut squash, around 3 lbs. roasted then pureed to yield 2 cups
  • 1 heaping ½ cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano plus extra for garnish
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon, salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2 plus cups of all purpose, unbleached flour
  • FOR THE BROWN BUTTER SAUCE
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • a handful of fresh sage leaves
Instructions
  1. Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, drizzle each half with olive oil, salt and pepper and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet, cut side down, at 375 until tender and the tip of a knife goes through easily 40 minutes or so.
  2. Scoop the flesh of the squash out and place it into a food processor, puree until completely smooth with no lumps.
  3. Place pureed squash into a sauce pan on medium heat, stirring often to evaporate any moisture that might be showing up in the mixture.
  4. Next cool down that mixture completely, so place the pan into the fridge until completely cooled .
  5. Now you’re ready to start forming the gnocchi.
  6. In a bowl add the pureed squash with parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and egg.. Then add the flour little by little into the mixture and work together by hand. It will be very sticky, you might need to add more flour, or even less, just judge by the feel of the dough, you have to be able to roll it.
  7. Once smooth, flour the work surface, Divide dough into 6 pieces and then roll each piece into a long strip, about ½ inch wide. Cut the strip into ½ inch pieces.
  8. Using a gnocchi board, a fork, the back of a grater or just as is, to create ridges. Place each piece on floured wax paper and repeat with the rest of the dough.
  9. At this point you can freeze them in single layer until solid frozen then place the gnocchi into zip lock bags until ready to use.
  10. When ready to eat, have a large pot of salted water going, when boiling add the frozen gnocchi, (don't let the water boil so so hard, lower it a bit) when they float up to the top, they’re pretty much done, but you can test one to make sure. Always take them out of the water with a hand strainer like a Chinese spider, never pour them into a big strainer, gnocchi are delicate.
  11. You don't ever want your gnocchi to blow up and over cook, they should have a little bite to them.
  12. While the gnocchi is in the water cooking make your brown butter sauce by melting the butter over medium heat, when it starts to to smell nutty and turn golden brown toss in your sage leaves and let them fizzle.
  13. Take your gnocchi from the water with a hand strainer, gently and place them into the brown butter sauce, tossing till covered, If you want to loosen the sauce up a bit, add a little pasta water, then add more parmigiano.
  14. They're ready to eat now!

 

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