I had this recipe ready to go a couple of weeks ago but then COVID hit our house. We are all recovering now but we had a rough go of it. This baked vodka pasta is comfort in a bowl. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did…before we lost our sense of taste and smell. I’m looking forward to spring. More recipes and writing to come. Stay healthy and safe!
Baked Vodka Pasta
Recipe adapted from Alexandra Cooks
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup vodka
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1lb penne pasta
1 cup parmesan
½ cup heavy cream
16 ounces of whole milk ricotta cheese
8 ounces fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil, optional but delicious
Combine the butter, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir often until butter is melted and garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Next, add the vodka and bring to a simmer. Allow the vodka to reduce by one third so cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Next, add the crushed tomatoes, parmesan rind, and a large pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook for 6 minutes (4 minutes under the al dente time). Reserve 1 cup of the past liquid and set aside. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water.
Remove the parmesan rind from the sauce. Add some reserved pasta liquid if the sauce seems too thick. Place the pasta in a large bowl. Add the sauce and parmesan. Mix well. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425F. Using a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta and heavy cream.
Add half of the pasta to a 9×13 pan. Spread ricotta mixture evenly over pasta and top with remaining pasta. Tear the mozzarella into chunks and spread it evenly over the pasta. Bake until the top of the cheese is golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve with fresh torn basil leaves and more parmesan if desired. I highly recommend it!
**Pasta dish can be made a few hours or up to a day ahead of time. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake. **
**Vodka can be replaced with an equal amount of water and a squeeze of lemon juice. **
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