We’re Italian. That means we love our pasta, tomato sauce, and Parmesan cheese. It’s in our blood. That being said, Penne ala Vodka didn’t cross the Atlantic with my ancestors a century ago. I’m pretty sure it’s more of an American invention. But who cares about the details of its origins. We love it.
My version of it is sort of unconventional. Sometimes I make it without the vodka. This was especially true while my daughter was pregnant – no foods containing even a minuscule amount of alcohol were allowed on the table. That’s when I came up with my alternate version. This rendition is what I typically throw together but don’t worry – if you love the real thing, I’ll tell you how to make that, too.
Fake Penne ala Vodka
1 – 6 oz. can of tomato paste
2 cans of milk, half & half or cream (use the empty tomato paste can to measure the milk) *
1/2 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
15 cranks on the pepper mill of pepper
2 tsp basil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb. of pasta
Combine all the ingredients except for the cheese in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer. Meantime put up a pot of water for the pasta. By the time your pasta water boils and you’ve cooked your pasta, the sauce will be ready. Stir the cheese into the sauce. Drain your pasta and add the sauce.
* If you want the vodka, substitute about half a can of the milk for vodka.
And yes, that picture is not penne. What can I say? I got bored. There may also be some diced, homemade pancetta in that dish.