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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Penne a la Vodka

History books give credit to the Chinese culture for the invention of pasta, or at least spaghetti. Marco Polo gets the credit for bringing it home on his return voyage in 1295.

However, the discovery of some Italian recipe books reveals that there was reference to pasta dishes some twenty years earlier than Marco Polo’s expeditions.

The jury may still be out on this one but if the account giving the Chinese credit be true, the fact remains that Signor Polo sure knew a good thing when he saw it!

Once this wonderful find made it home, spaghetti was just the beginning of a new era!

Dare I suggest that it was the Italians who came up with the numerous shapes and sizes available today and the thousand and one ways to dress it up and serve it.

The introduction to and importance of pasta is instilled into Italian children at a very early age. No wonder Italians think they invented it!

I had in mind to post several pasta recipes in the future but honestly didn’t know where to begin.

A recent interest in the “Penne a la Vodka” recipe has provided a starting point for me to enter the wonderful world of pasta.

All subsequent posts for pasta dishes will be upon request since the number of recipes is countless. However, I may decide to post a few of my favourite recipes should I be inspired.

Penne a la Vodka
3 tablespoons butter
3 shallots finely chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 14 ounce tin (398 ml) plum tomatoes drained of juice and pureed
(pass puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds)
1/3 cup vodka
1 cup whipping cream (35% cream)
1/3 cup Parmigiano cheese finely grated
2 tablespoons fresh parsley finely chopped
additional Parmigiano cheese
1 pound penne shaped pasta
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet, add the shallots and garlic and sauté briefly over medium heat.
  3. When garlic is golden, add the tomato puree, salt and pepper and let simmer until most of the liquid evaporates.
  4. Add the vodka and cook for 10 seconds, then add the cream.
  5. Stir in the Parmigiano cheese and simmer for about 2 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook al dente, drain well.
  7. Return the saucepan to the stove, add the pasta to the skillet and stir well.
  8. Serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley and additional Parmigiano cheese.
Notes, Tips and Suggestions
  • After cooking pasta never rinse under running water. This removes all the surface starch that helps sauce stick to the pasta.
  • When in season, blanch and peel some ripe tomatoes and proceed as in the recipe above. You’ll have a totally new taste experience.
  • Adding fresh chopped herbs like parsley and basil compliment this or any other pasta dish in a great way.
  • Cook pasta “al dente.” Over cooked pasta results in an unpalatable mushy texture.

1 comment:

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