Nov 12, 2010

Penne alla Vecchia Bettola

nick and tony 1

Well, not really penne – but I used orecchiette – but this recipe is not about the shape of the pasta – it is all about the sauce.   I’ve made vodka sauce before – but this one is better.  I used plum tomatoes that I canned this year and fresh oregano from my garden – this sauce is out of this world good.  It’s got a little kick from the red pepper flakes – and a smooth creamyness, from the cream.  Just make sure you actually have vodka in your liquor cabinet before you start this – so you don’t have to run out to the liquor store in the middle of this like I did.  I served it with a simple ceasar salad and some garlic knots – perfect Sunday dinner!  Enjoy!

nick and tony 2


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 - (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound penne (or other shaped) pasta
  • 2-4 Tbsp. fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.

3. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.

4. Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve and crush them into the pan with your hands. Add 2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of black pepper.

5. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

7. Puree the tomato sauce mixture with a hand blender (or use a regular blended if you don’t have a hand-held one).

8. Warm the sauce over low, add 2 tablespoons fresh oregano and heavy cream to make the sauce a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes.

9. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh oregano on each plate.

Source: Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network

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