Have I mentioned how much I love pasta? It’s so versatile – there are probably a zillion or more different sauce recipes out there. This tomato and cream based sauce – an improvement over most basic “rosas” – is quick to make and has quite an unusual flavour; you can make it as spicy as you like simply by adding a few extra hot peppers to the vodka before you steep it. Like most pasta sauces, if the sauce has a chance to sit for a little extra time, the flavours will blend better. The recipe is still delicious if you omit the proscuitto or substitute it with sliced mushrooms to make a vegetarian version. I am sure this would be great on gluten-free pasta as well.
6 thin slices proscuitto, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
½ cup hot pepper vodka*
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
*to make hot pepper vodka, heat vodka for 30 seconds in the microwave. Add 1 – 2 dried chili peppers, broken in half, (or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes) and let stand for 5 minutes. Strain vodka, discarding peppers and seeds.
- In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add proscuitto and cook for 2 minutes. Add basil and cook for 1 minute, stirring
- Add vodka; simmer over medium heat for 3 minutes to allow alcohol to evaporate.
- Stir in tomato sauce and cream and simmer gently on low heat for 10 minutes.
- While sauce is simmering, cook penne in a large pot of boiling water until just tender.
- Drain pasta and distribute among 4 bowls.
- Ladle hot sauce over top and garnish with parsley and parmesan.