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By Debbie AndersonFebruary 2, 2022March 1st, 2022No Comments

Orecchiette Alla Vodka

By June Naylor
Photos by Meda Kessler

This robust but simple vegetarian pasta dish comes from the new cookbook by The Defined Dish blogger Alex Snodgrass, a TCU alum and social media foodie phenom living in Dallas.

Like all recipes in The Comfortable Kitchen: 105 Laid-Back, Healthy, and Wholesome Recipes, this one comes together quickly and delivers satisfying flavors and textures. Snodgrass prefers orecchiette pasta, little ear-shaped shells, as it holds the sauce nicely. She warns against skipping the vodka; although it’s just a small amount, the alcohol brings a bit of warmth to the creamy tomato blend.

Orecchiette alla Vodka

Serves 6

  • 4 ounces diced pancetta
  • ¾ cup chopped shallots (about 2 shallots)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided use
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 (16-ounce) box orecchiette (substitute  gluten-free, if desired) 
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves, for serving

Bring large pot of water to boil. 

Heat large skillet over medium heat, adding pancetta. Cook, stirring until golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Add shallots, garlic, pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper and cook, stirring, till shallots are tender, about 4 minutes. 

Add vodka and cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Bring sauce to simmer and cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring often.

Add 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water and cook pasta until al dente, according to package directions. 

Stir cream into sauce, bring to a light simmer and stir till pasta finishes cooking. 

Drain pasta, transfer it to sauce and add Parmesan. Toss pasta with sauce till well coated, about 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Taste and add salt, if desired. Serve immediately with Parmesan and basil ribbons. 

The Comfortable Kitchen Purchase The Comfortable Kitchen (William Morrow, $29.99) by Alex Snodgrass (as well as her first book, The Defined Dish) at stores listed on the website, which also includes hundreds of her original recipes. thedefineddish.com