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Penne alla Vodka and Sangiovese

Penne Alla Vodka

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Prep time: 10 minutes    Cook time 30 minutes


Kosher salt to taste

1-pound dried penne
4 ounces diced pancetta (optional – omit for vegetarian)

2 (28-ounce) cans of whole tomatoes

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

6 cloves garlic, smashed

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

¼ cup vodka

¾ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (optional)

¾ cup finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Chopped parsley for garnish


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the penne according to package directions, just until al dente, about 11 minutes.

Meanwhile, pulse the tomatoes in a food processor with their juice until fairly well chopped, but not completely smooth. You can also do this by hand; make sure to mix the juice back into the chopped tomatoes.

If you are using the pancetta, sauté in a large pot (the same one you will use in the next step) until just crisp.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until pale golden brown, about 5 minutes; turn the heat down if the onions seem to be browning too rapidly. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook stirring for 2 more minutes, allowing the garlic to become fragrant and golden, but not brown. Add the tomatoes and the vodka, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the cream, oregano, and ¾ cup Parmesan, adjust the seasonings as needed, and stir until it is hot throughout, just barely bubbling at the edges, and the cheese has completely melted into the sauce.

Drain the cooked pasta and return it to the pot. Pour in as much sauce as you like; you will likely have leftovers to use later in the week. Stir until the pasta is well-coated.

Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Pass additional Parmesan on the side for those who want it.

Enjoy with Iron Hub Sangiovese or any other premium Iron Hub wine.