Penne alla Vodka is another one of my pasta weaknesses, and the second in my series of pastas from my Il Fornaio Pasta Book. However, like Carbonara, it is rich with pancetta and heavy cream, so I try to reign back my pasta with cream sauce cravings and eat small portions.
There are several variations of pasta alla vodkas out there, some with less cream and some without pancetta. For example, there's Rachael Ray's You Won't Be Single for Long Vodka Cream Pasta, which has chicken broth replacing some of the cream, and no pancetta. I think that was the first, and only, RR recipe I've ever tried. Although I'm a true believer in the old saying, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, I thank God I remained single after serving RR's Penne alla Vodka to that mistake of a man in my past! What was I thinking?! Things do happen for a reason!
Moving right along, I decided to use capellini instead of penne in this version. I also threw in a few handfuls of baby arugula. It didn't taste quite as good as Il Fornaio's version here on the island, but it satisfied my craving and then some. Most importantly, I served it to the wonderful man who has since come into my life, making me very happy ;-)
Capellini Alla Vodka
Adapted from Ribbed Pasta Tubes in a Creamy Vodka Sauce
Il Fornaio Pasta Book, by Maurizio Mazzon.
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 oz. pancetta, or smoked bacon, sliced 1/4 inch thick and julienned
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (I like San Marzano)
12 0z. dry capellini
2 cups packed baby arugula
1/3 grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Although there's enough vodka in this dish for a few martinis, I enjoy a glass of wine while I cook. This Da Vinci Chianti is nice, and I like the label.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the minced shallots and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
Off the heat, add the vodka. Put the pan back on the stove over medium high heat and cook until reduced by half, 6-7 minutes. Add the cream and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, with their juices, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to keep the sauce warm while cooking the pasta.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the capellini and cook until al dente, 4-5 minutes. Drain. Toss with the sauce. Add the arugula and gently combine. Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle with parmigiano.