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Rigatoni con Vodka Sauce | Cooking with Styles

It sounds fancy and difficult to make, but it is simple and makes a great main course or side dish.

SAN DIEGO — One of the summers between San Diego and Park City, UT, I worked at Sante's in La Jolla. Tony Sante was a fabulous Restaurateur from New York who brought his East Coast flair to San Diego. His restaurant was embraced and was very successful and this vodka sauce was a hit because it is so simple but with a totally unique flavor.

Rigatoni con Vodka Sauce

  • 10 - 12 oz. Rigatoni, cooked
  • 1 - 2 large Shallots, diced
  • 2 - 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp crushed Red Peppers
  • 6 oz. Tomato Paste
  • 2 oz. Vodka
  • 2 - 3 tbsp. Olive oil
  • 8 oz. Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup Pasta water, possibly more
  • ¼ cup Fresh Basil
  • ¼ cup Fresh Italian Parsley
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • Pepper, fresh ground

Start by cooking the pasta as you will need some of the water for the sauce.

While the Pasta is cooking, start the sauce. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil and shallots, and cook for 3 - 4 minutes. While stirring, add garlic and red peppers, salt and 3 twists of pepper and sauté for a couple of minutes. 

Now it's time to add the Vodka, and this is VERY IMPORTANT! Shut the stove off, remove the pan from the stove, and move it away from any open flame before you add the Vodka. Allow the alcohol to evaporate, and then return to the stovetop on medium heat. 

Next, add the heavy cream, tomato paste, and pasta water and combine all the ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. If the sauce is too thick add a little more pasta water. 

Strain pasta, add to sauce and toss with basil and butter, top with Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley. And if you like your sauce with a little more kick, more red pepper.

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