This is one of those dishes that I tend to forget about for months at a time, and then when I do make it I wonder what I waited so long for! I think I too often get wrapped up in cooking new things all of the time that I neglect some of our wonderful old favorites. It’s just so hard when I have such a long list of new recipes that I want to try! But it is such a good feeling to be able to walk into the kitchen and whip something up without needing the laptop, a cookbook, or a recipe card at arms length.
This meal comes together incredibly quickly for a quick weeknight dinner, and it has a little something special that goes above and beyond your usual marinara sauce. So creamy, rich, and decadent. Serve it alongside a simple green salad, and you’re all set! Of course, the classic version is typically served with penne pasta, but I only had rigatoni on hand, so that’s what we used.
Rigatoni alla Vodka
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juices
1 pound Rigatoni pasta
1 Tablespoon vodka
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, julienne
Salt to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
Heat a large skillet over low heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper to the pan, and heat gently until the garlic sizzles. Remove from heat. Puree tomatoes in a blender or food processor and add to the skillet. Increase the heat to medium-low, and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes stirring often.
In the meantime, once the pasta water has boiled, add 2 Tablespoons salt to the pot. Cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it directly to the sauce in the skillet. Add the cream, orange zest, and vodka, and cook gently over low heat until the pasta has absorbed some of the sauce (about 5 minutes).
Spoon into warmed pasta bowls, sprinkle with basil, and serve.