I have zero issues cheating with weeknight pasta and buying a jar of premade sauce. I do it almost as often as I make my own sauce because I get lazy, as we busy humans do.
However, in the fall and winter I am more likely to choose the homemade version over the store bought simply because the weather calls for cooking and baking. The grey, windy days of fall and cold, desolate days of winter pull me to the kitchen.
This past weekend, we had a bitterly cold, grey and windy day and it pulled me to make Ina Garten’s penne alla vodka. Except, I didn’t have penne and I didn’t follow her recipe exactly, because I almost never follow anyone’s recipe exactly.
Nonetheless, this easy vodka sauce is delicious, feeds a crowd, and keeps well in the freezer for nights when you want homemade but you can’t be bothered to make it.
Cheers friends. Enjoy!
- 1 cup diced onion*
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1½ tsp dried oregano
- 1 cup vodka
- 2 28oz cans whole peeled san marzano tomatoes
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½-1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese + more for serving
- fresh oregano, for serving
- Preheat oven to 375F
- In a deep skillet or pot with a tight fitting lid, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add the garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, oregano and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the vodka and allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half.
- Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add to the pan along with the salt and pepper. Stir to incorporate then cover with a tight fitting lid and place on the center rack of your oven.
- Roast for 1½ hours.
- Remove from oven, remove the lid and allow to cool slightly.
- Transfer sauce to a blender, open the lit of the blender and cover lightly with a towel to release steam. Blend on high until smooth.
- Return to the pan and add ½-1 cup cream, depending on how creamy you would like it.
- Stir in parmesan cheese until melted.
- Toss with your favorite pasta and serve with extra cheese and fresh oregano, if desired.
Ina also recommends straining the liquid from the can of tomatoes. I didn't do this, either and simply ended up with more sauce. We liked it this way. You can always strain it!
We used ½ cup heavy cream, not the 1 cup her recipe calls for.
Adapted from Ina Garten