This is one of those deceptively simple pasta dishes that takes less than half an hour to get to the table but truly delivers on flavour. The vodka binds the tomato and cream in the sauce to make it rich and silky but you don’t really taste it, it simply leaves a pleasing background heat. The fresh parsley or, my favourite, dill lifts the finished dish beautifully.
- 4 tbs light olive oil
- 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
- 1 red or green chilli pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- A pinch of sugar
- 110ml vodka
- 150ml double cream
- 350g penne
- 1/2 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly chopped dill or parsley
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently sauté the onion and chilli until soft. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar. Warm the vodka in a small saucepan. P our the heated vodka into the frying pan and, this is the fun bit, set it alight. Once the flame dies out, add the cream and stir until the sauce has thickened. I use a potato masher to tamp the sauce down to break down any lumps of chopped tomato so the sauce is silky.
- At the same time, cook the pasta ‘al dente’ (this usually takes 10 to 12 minutes) in plenty of boiling salted water. Drain and then add it to the sauce. Combine thoroughly and cook through for a couple of minutes. Serve in warmed pasta bowls and garnish with chopped parsley or dill.
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