As with all dishes that find their way into a country’s repertoire, even oddball ones like this, there are many versions of this recipe. Some add red-pepper flakes, some cubes of bacon; I prefer it with neither, just the tomatoes, a base of onion, and the butter and cream stirred through later. The vodka itself — and you may have to steel yourself for this — is better added to the drained pasta and not, as all the recipes I’ve seen, stirred into the sauce. But feel free to play with it as you please. You could, indeed, consider using pepper vodka.
And if I suggest garlic-infused oil, that’s just because I always have it to hand, and find it a lazy way to get the garlic flavor without running the risk of the garlic burning and becoming bitter as you cook the onion. But obviously, you can use real garlic, either minced (in which case watch out while you cook) or just add a peeled whole clove to give a softer, sweeter hit of garlic to the sauce. An Italian would add the garlic clove and remove it once it’s browned; I find that as long as it’s cooked whole with the onion, it won’t brown so much that it turns bitter, and I’m happy to have an errant clove left in the sauce.
I know that two packages of pasta doesn’t sound like enough for 10, and normally I’d agree with you. That’s to say, I’d worry enormously about not giving people enough to eat if I cooked just one package of pasta for five. But it’s always the case that the more people there are, the less they eat. I suppose it’s because there’s more conversation and therefore people give themselves less chewing time. Or something like that. By all means add more pasta if you feel safer that way, but I promise this makes a vatful.
|2||Tbsp. garlic-infused oil|
|2||cans (14 ounces each) or 3 cups chopped tomatoes|
|2||Tbsp. heavy cream|
|2||lb. penne rigate or other short, preferably ridged, pasta|
|4||Tbsp. unsalted butter|
|~||Parmesan, for grating|
Culinate editor’s note: If you like a smoother sauce, whiz the cooked tomatoes and onions in a blender before reheating with the cream.
This content is from the book Feast by Nigella Lawson.
Change in our kitchens
Reflections on cooking — and a career that’s based largely at the stove.
Flatbreads from around the continent
Beyond a supporting role
The great Sicilian-Neapolitan kitchen rivalry
Five ideas each month for eating better