We’re visiting my parents this week and, apparently because I’m me, I still couldn’t resist cooking up a feast. Here’s what I made us all for dinner last night:
Penne a la Vodka- SUPER SIZED
I made this in bulk quantity for 4 adults plus a hungry toddler and there were still leftovers. I’d cut the portion in half if it were just for Eliana, Matt and myself.
- – 4 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes (I look for the crushed tomatoes but if I can’t find them, I get the whole tomatoes and just blend the sauce after I’ve finished cooking it which is what I did this time).
- – 2 pints, Half & Half
- – 2-3 cups basil, chopped
- – 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- – 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- – Parmesan cheese, grated
- – 1½ cups vodka (Like wine, I use a brand I would drink.)
- – Olive oil, salt, sugar, red pepper flakes and pepper to taste
- – 2 boxes of your favorite penne pasta (I like to use whole wheat pasta.)
Heat a very large sauté pan or a large pot on medium heat. Add the olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic. Sauté for around 1 minute. Add the onion and a few pinches of salt. Stir and sauté until the onion begins to yellow, around 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, more salt, some pepper and a bit of sugar and stir. Cover and let simmer around 10 minutes. Add the vodka and stir. Let simmer another 15 minutes. Add the Half & Half, stir and let simmer another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Toss with your favorite cooked pasta and serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top. There will be extra sauce in order to use for the Chicken a la Vodka recipe below. Any remaining sauce can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Variation: Add chopped, steamed or sautéed, vegetables into the pasta mixture before adding the Parmesan.
Chicken a la Vodka
- – 4 chicken breasts, trimmed, rinsed and patted dry
- – 1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped
- – Around 3-4 cups of the prepared a la Vodka Sauce from above
- – Salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil, to taste
Preheat the oven to 365°. Make a spice mixture of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Top one side of the chicken breasts with the spice mixture and some fresh basil. Put the breasts, seasoned side down, into the skillet and cook for around 3-4 minutes. Don’t overcrowd the skillet. Make the chicken in two batches if needed. While the chicken cooks, season the topside with the spice mixture and chopped basil. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 3 minutes. The chicken will not be cooked all the way through. It will finish cooking in the oven. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish with 2-2 ½ cups of the prepared vodka sauce. Add the semi-cooked chicken breasts in a single layer. Top with the remaining vodka sauce and bake for 30-35 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Serve alongside the pasta or cut into pieces and mixed into the pasta.
And did the teeny tiny foodie like it?