Simple sauce is full of flavour!
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 prosciutto to make a vegetarian version. I am sure this would be great on gluten-free pasta as well.
- 6 thin slices prosciutto, diced (omit for vegetarian version)
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
- 1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) hot pepper vodka*
- 2 cups (500 mL) tomato sauce
- 1 cup (250 mL) heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh basil or Italian (flat leaf) parsley
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) 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 – 1 teaspoon (2.5 – 5 mL) 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 prosciutto and cook for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.
- Add basil and 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, salted water until just tender.
- Reserve 1/4 cup (60 mL) of starchy pasta cooking water then drain pasta and distribute among 4 bowls.
- Stir reserved pasta cooking water into sauce then ladle hot sauce over pasta and garnish with basil or parsley and Parmesan.