Yum-O!…I’m already sorry I said that. LIGHTEN UP, PEOPLE.
This delicious meal of penne alla vodka and spinach salad with caesar-ish dressing, pecorino cheese and proscuitto can be made in 12 minutes.
Can a post describing it be written in 12 minutes? It’s 10:06. Let’s go!
You know what night it is: American Idol night. I actually became angry at the judges when they were so harsh to Jason Castro. I officially have a problem.
Vodka sauce is a simple, smooth tomato sauce enriched with cream and spiced up with red pepper flakes. If you’re listening to me as closely as you should be, you are now keeping bottled tomato puree in your pantry for quick sauces. You may even have half a bottle left over from something else you’ve made. That half a bottle will produce a quick, delicious sauce for 4.*
It starts, as most good things do, with onions + garlic + olive oil + heat. Some crushed red pepper comes to the party – I have some habanero flakes, so I used a tiny pinch of those – along with the tomato puree and a third of a cup of heavy cream (another substance found in most good things). The sauce simmers while you cook the pasta and throw the salad together, with the vodka added at the last minute.
*4 normal people, 6 people who actually eat the recommended serving size of pasta, 2 people like me, or 1 Brian.
Prosciutto: The King of Pork
The salad was a total accident born of my failure to pay attention to any details whatsoever of the caesar dressing recipe I glanced at. (For example, had I actually read it through I would have realized that I didn’t actually have half the ingredients in the house. Go me.) The dressing is basically a lemon and olive oil base with some finely minced garlic and anchovy paste mixed in.
I decided to top the spinach with cheese and proscuitto because (1) the cheese is traditional to caesar, so at least I got something right, (2) proscuitto is delicious, (3) I can justify it by telling myself that the meal needed “protein”, and (4) it’s pork and cheese, do I seriously need a reason? Get off my back, harpies.
In the meantime, my pasta water hit a boil and I dumped in a hefty amount of salt and some artisinal penne; I also poured some vodka into my simmering sauce and lit it to produce a truly pathetic flame that did not reach above the lip of the saucepan. I drained the penne 2 minutes before the recommended cooking time and finished it right in the vodka sauce, which really allowed the flavor to penetrate the pasta. I plated things up all pretty-like and dinner was served.
And it was good. The sauce was creamy, quite spicy but with a sweet tomato kick. The sauce clung needily to the roughly textured artisinal pasta. The lemony dressing was great with some baby spinach, and the prosciutto added some nice salt and chew along with its miraculous sweetness.
10:18! 12 minutes. I am a fucking winner.
12-Minute Vodka Sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
12 oz. bottled tomato puree
1/3 c. heavy cream
3 tbsp. vodka
Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 4-5 minutes, until it begins to turn translucent; add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook a few minutes more. Stir in the tomatoes and cream and a pinch of salt and bring to a simmer.
Leave simmering while you cook the pasta. Just before you’re ready to use it, adjust the salt and pepper levels. Add the vodka; flaming isn’t necessary, but you can do it if you’d like.