Pasta with Pepper Vodka Sauce

4 to 6 servings
  • 1 pound penne or ziti pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 (28-ounce) can peeled, crushed tomatoes, chopped, and their liquid
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup Pepper Vodka, recipe follows
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Chopped basil leaves, garnish
  • Finely grated pecorino cheese
  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until just al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, return to the pot, and cover to keep warm.

  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the vodka and cook until reduced to about 3 to 4 tablespoons, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste.

  • Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to coat evenly.

  • Transfer to a large serving bowl and garnish with the basil and top with a sprinkling of the pecorino cheese.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes

  • Cook Time: 15 minutes

  • Inactive Prep Time: 1 week

Pepper Vodka:
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle best quality vodka

  • 1 fresh red jalapeno or red Fresno pepper, slit in 1/2 lengthwise, stem left intact

  • 1 fresh green jalapeno pepper, slit in 1/2 lengthwise, stem left intact

  • 1 fresh Serrano or green cayenne pepper, slit in 1/2 lengthwise, stem left intact

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled

  • Pour out enough vodka from the bottle in order to make room for the peppers and reserve for another use. Carefully add the peppers and garlic to the vodka, pouring out more liquid if need be. Cap and let stand at room temperature until the vodka acquires the desired heat, about 1 week.

  • Serve, or remove the peppers and keep in the freezer.

  • Yield: about 3 1/4 cups

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