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
- 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.