I have a list of go-to meals that can be whipped up in no time. And while P's sweet enough to try almost anything I cook, I reserve this list for only the dishes he gets excited about. Chief among them is this fabulous spaghetti alla vodka.
P's not much of a foodie. So it's easy to tell when he loves a dish. The giveaway is usually his request to "never stop making this!" Exactly what he said after his first taste of this creamy tomato pasta made moreish by the addition of a little alcohol. Don't worry if you don't like the taste of vodka (I don't either). Cooking mellows the flavor so you won't even know it's spiked ^_^.
Cooking Light magazine uses the amount needed to provide those textural benefits and no more. Still an indulgence, but a much healthier one.
Do you also have a go-to list of quick, delicious meals for those really hectic days? I can't wait to hear what's on it.
Spaghetti with Vodka Cream Sauce [Printable Recipe]
Slightly adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 3 to 4
XIAOLU'S NOTES: I HIGHLY recommend using fire-roasted canned tomatoes for this recipe -- it adds that much more depth to the flavor! I hesitated to add this detail before when Muir Glen made the only widely available version since they're a bit pricey. Luckily, Hunt's has come out with a version that's even easier to find than Muir Glen's and about as cheap as non-roasted diced tomatoes. Enjoy!
1/2 pound dry thin spaghetti pasta OR any other pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion OR 2 to 3 shallots
1/8 to 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper OR 1 dried red chili, split in half
1 garlic clove, minced
Vegetable bouillon cube OR paste in amount used to flavor 1 cup broth
1/2 cup vodka
1/3 to 1/2 tsp salt
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup whipping cream
3 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil
Shaved or grated parmesan cheese, to garnish
Additional fresh basil leaves (optional)
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and keep warm.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add pepper, garlic, and bouillon; sauté 1 minute. Add vodka (when cooking with alcohol, there is always the chance of it catching on fire, so be very careful); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by about half. Stir in 1/3 teaspoon salt and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and let cool slightly.
IF you have stick blender, you can now puree the sauce right in the pan (easy peasy!). OTHERWISE, place tomato mixture in a conventional blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); and secure the lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters), and process until smooth. Return tomato mixture to pan.
Mix in cream, then cook the sauce for 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in cooked pasta and basil. Taste the pasta and add more salt if needed. Serve immediately.