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Penne with Vodka Sauce and Mini Meatballs

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 35 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Cook: 25 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Nutrition Info
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Ingredients

Kosher salt

12 ounces penne pasta

8 ounces ground beef chuck

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup chopped fresh basil

3 cloves garlic (1 minced, 2 sliced)

2 1/2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup heavy cream

Freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the beef, 1/4 cup parmesan, the breadcrumbs, egg, 1/2 cup basil, the minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl with your hands until just combined. Form into 3/4-inch meatballs (about 20). Grate the tomatoes into a medium bowl; discard the skins.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the meatballs. Cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sliced garlic and cook until just golden, about 1 minute. Gradually add the vodka, then the grated tomatoes and cream. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens and the meatballs are cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  4. Add the pasta and the remaining 1/4 cup basil to the skillet; toss, adding the reserved cooking water as needed to loosen. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan; toss.
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