About two weeks ago I came home on a Sunday afternoon; it was over cast with a constant breeze coming through the window. I will admit that for the beautiful weather we were having this was odd. Although, the month of June here in Seattle is known as the “June Gloom”…this chill felt off kilter. Why the whole week prior it was in the 70’s and I was indulging in long walks with the girls to soak up the sun. I needed to warm myself up as the apartment was chilly, and my stomach was rumbling. I looked over what I had and knew the perfect thing to make would be Vodka Sauce.
Several years ago I was watching Ina Garten on the Food network and she was cooking with this chef from a restaurant in the Hamptons. They said that this was one of their most popular dishes at the restaurant and after watching them make it together I just had to make it for myself. You see they took the Vodka and reduced it in the pan then add their tomatoes only to place a lid on the pan and place it in a 375 degree oven to roast together for an hour and a half. You then follow up pureeing it, only to add cream and fresh oregano to it. The result is a sauce that is so velvety smooth and rich. I coats the pasta wonderfully and its flavor is so deep with a light heat to it. It was perfect for the June Gloom.
So while Brian was watching the finally to “The Game of Thrones” I had the oven going and was roasting those tomatoes. By the time the tomatoes were done and my pot of water was boiling for the pasta, Brian’s show was almost over. Perfect timing! We sat down to a bowl each of the Pasta and Vodka Sauce and Brian grinned. We both agreed it has been too long since I had made it last, but it was so good again it made up for lost time! I know a bowl of pasta may not be the perfect dish for “summer” but it was fitting with the overcast June Gloom day we were experiencing. Not to mention the left overs were just as good. Hopefully you will be as smitten with this recipe as we were. Happy summer to you! Hopefully it will not be too gloomy!
Pasta and Vodka Sauce (serves 8)
*this recipe is adapted from Ina Garter of the Barefoot Contessa where she cooks with a chef from Nick and Toni’s. This recipe serves a lot, but can easily be cut in half.
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped small
3 cloves of garlic, chopped small
¾ tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
1 ½ tsp of dries oregano
1 cup of vodka
2 (28 oz) cans of whole peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand
Sea Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
1 cup of heavy cream
4 tbsp of fresh oregano
Parmesan Cheese for grating
1 ½ pounds of pasta (penne, Rigatoni, Fusilli, etc.)
First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place a large sauté pan with a fitted over medium heat. Add your onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. You are looking for the onion to become transparent, not browning. You may then add your garlic, dried oregano, and crushed red pepper. Sauté together about another minute longer.
Next, add your vodka and let it all simmer until the mixture is reduced my half. Add your tomatoes and stir it well. Place a lid over it all and place it carefully into the oven for about 1 ½ hours. When time is up carefully remove from the oven and let it cool slightly.
Meantime, place a large pot of salted water over high heat.
Then, when your tomatoes are cooled you can place them in a blender or food processor and process until the mixture is smooth and thick sauce. Return it to the pan and place over a low flame. By now your water is probably boiling and cook the pasta until it is al dente.
Finally, add the cream and fresh oregano to the sauce and heat through. Season with Sea salt and black pepper to your taste. Stir it well and add a little bit at a time to your pasta and toss. You want to coat the pasta and then have extra to serve it with. Add about a ¼ cup of the parmesan when mixing and serve the rest for guests to help themselves when eating.