Rigatoni pasta covered in a delicious creamy vodka tomato sauce with a hint of spiciness from the crushed red peppers. A quick and easy meal that’s perfect for a night in.
With Valentine’s Day coming up later this week, I know people are looking for inspirations and ideas. This recipe is perfect for a last minute change in plans. It takes only half an hour to prepare, make, and serve, but it looks and tastes amazing. You won’t regret trying it.
I started on this recipe a few months ago when I was having a Girl’s Night with my friends, Kim and Lily. I met these girls in the dental hygiene program, but after we graduated back in June, it became increasingly difficult to meet up since we all live in different cities. So we organized a sleepover, planned on making penne with spicy vodka tomato cream sauce for dinner, and thought we could pamper ourselves afterwards while watching movies from On Demand. Of course, nothing ever goes as planned.
We actually ended up having dinner at La Fondue in Saratoga. Not that I’m complaining. A pesto cheese fondue for dinner and a chocolate fondue for dessert? My mouth waters just remembering them. But we did buy all the ingredients for our pasta night. And we made pasta for brunch the next morning.
You can see a few photos below, taken by Kim using her DSLR. I’m so jealous. 95% of the photos on this blog are taken on my iPhone 4. The quality is obviously not as good. This version of the penne vodka tomato cream sauce had chicken in it.
Most of the time, the penne with spicy vodka tomato cream sauce uses penne pasta. I know, I’m stating the obvious. But I couldn’t find them at the grocery store the day I went so I ended up getting rigatoni. They look pretty similar, but the penne is cut slanted which I personally think looks better. Just my personal opinion.
First, boil the pasta according to the package. About 7-9 minutes for my rigatoni pasta. Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water. Run the pasta through cold water and drain it again. This process helps cool down the pasta so that it doesn’t continue to cook because of the heat and also helps keep the pasta from sticking to each other. Set the pasta aside for now.
Mince five garlic cloves.
Add about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat. Then add in the minced garlic. Cook the garlic until it turns a golden brown color. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
Originally, I added chicken to the recipe but on the day I wanted to make this dish and take photos, we ran out of chicken. So I added sliced mushrooms. For this recipe, you’ll need about one cup of sliced mushrooms. Add the mushrooms, one 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, and half a jar of your favorite pasta sauce. I use diced tomatoes because I like my sauce chunky.
Add in the crushed red peppers and salt.
Add three tablespoons of vodka to the sauce. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol so I just bought a small bottle from BevMo for a dollar.
Stir in heavy whipping cream to make the sauce creamy. Make sure to use heavy whipping cream. In my second attempt to make this recipe, I used 2% milk, thinking that it would turn the sauce a rustic orange color, but it didn’t. Instead my sauce became watery. I think it’s because the heavy whipping cream is thicker. You can see the difference in the two sauces. The left side is from when I used 2% milk and the right is when I used heavy whipping cream.
You want your sauce to look a rustic orange.
Add in fresh parsley and stir. Cook for a few more minutes before removing from heat.
Serve the pasta topped with the spicy vodka tomato cream sauce.
You can serve the pasta with a side of spicy garlic mozzarella breadsticks.
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