Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Question ...

... is always the same. Its asked in every household, every night of the week, all over the country and probably the world. If we had a penny for every time it was asked, we'd be able to buy and sell Oprah a thousand times over. The question is: "What's for dinner?"

Sometimes, the answer is vodka.

~dramatic pause~

Vodka as in vodka sauce ... c'mon, I'm not that debauched. And sometimes the answer is whatever is hanging around my fridge. Sometimes its both.

Divalicious Vodka Sauce:
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 1 large shallot (or 2 medium) minced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 4 slices of very lean prosciutto, diced
  • 3/4 cup vodka*
  • one 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 or 2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp. fat-free Half-and-Half
  • Cooked penne or other tubular pasta
  • some chopped fresh parsley and additional grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and butter and once the butter has melted, add the shallots, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes, to soften, stirring often - do not let them brown. Add prosciutto and saute until it just begins to crisp. Remove pan from the flame and add vodka to the pan. Return to the burner. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth. Bring sauce to the boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt, pepper and the grated Parmesan cheese to taste.

Add the oregano and simmer sauce, uncovered for 15 minutes on very low heat stirring frequently. You may add a bit more broth if sauce becomes too thick. This is one of those recipes that can cook for as little or as long as you need it to. 15 minutes is fine, but I've made it in advance and kept it on low for up to an hour. The important thing is to add the half-and-half at the last minute. When you are ready to eat, raise the heat so that the sauce is gently bubbling - add the half-and-half, to taste, stir to incorporate and serve immediately!

As written, this recipe will serve 6. Enjoy!

Careful viewers will have noted the absence of pasta beneath that beautiful sauce in the above photo. I served the sauce over some homemade gnudi and I'll spare you the recipe because I'm absolutely certain no one will even consider making them. Gnudi, or gnudoni, are probably best described as gnocchi's delightfully whimsical cousins. I made mine with a minimum of whole wheat pastry flour and some fresh spinach ... but it was a major undertaking and probably not worth the effort of description.

The sauce, however, is remarkably luscious. So good you'll want to drink it. Really. I'm not a huge fan of pink sauces, so I keep the half-and-half to a minimum, but do as you see fit and feel free to add more if that is your preference. Were we in the midst of summer, I might opt for fresh basil in lieu of the oregano, so that's another option as well. You can't go wrong either way and the end result will surely delight no matter your choice. I hope you'll try it!

*One final note about the vodka - do not use an ultra premium variety. Middle of the road vodka is the way to go here. The premium brands don't have enough flavor. Though the alcohol will burn off during the simmer, without the background spike of vodka there's really no point in making the sauce!

So, what's for dinner in your house tonight? Curious Diva wants to know.

Bon appetit!


Tracy said...

Diva, the first time I made vodka sauce (in my twenties) my husband (he was just my boyfriend back then) came home to find me in the kitchen with a fire extinguisher on the kitchen counter. LOL... I was so afraid of burning down the apartment, cooking with hootch and all! I'm much more brave now ;)

Anonymous said...

Too bad this isn't for dinner tonight! Or even lunch. Nothing wrong with a punch of vodka sauce during the day.

Sass said...

Tonight...we'll be having whatever we order at the restaurant. ;)

Gymnastics for a total of two and a half hours, homework, three baths, and me doing it all alone is not conducive to much cooking.

But I'll continue to live vicariously through you.

Ooh, I will say...I made a beautiful pork roast the other night. All by myself! ;)

The Diva on a Diet said...

Tracy - I'm laughing, but you raise a good point. I sure hope it goes without saying that one should never pour booze directly from a bottle into a pan over an open flame! I was terrified the first time I cooked with hootch too ... its not joke!

Duo - shots all around then ... cheers! ;)

Sass - Yikes, that's a busy night you've got there. Par for the course, I'm sure. WTG on the pork roast, one of my most favorite things. Yummy! Have a good night!

aubree said...

This looks very tasty! Plus its fun to say you're eating pasta with vodka sauce.. my friends would love it too!

Dana McCauley said...

Is it wrong that I saw nothing strange about you having just plain old vodka for dinner? Should I even admit this fact?

Tonight we are having double cheddar mac and cheese, salad and peameal (aka Canadian) bacon.

Juliet said...

Ugh. Dinner tonight for me was not pretty. I had to do a day trip to Reno for work and so I ate a salad at Quiznos at the airport in Reno. So sad and so not like me! Your sauce looks amazing. I'm a huge fan of sauce (my husband always teases me for eating all sauce and no noodles)!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for making me laugh and I hope there is nothing wrong with sipping vodka while making vodka sauce.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Aubree - it is tasty and would be great for a dinner party, because its fun *and* easy. :)

Dana - not wrong at all. That is why I love you and will someday come to visit you so we can dine together on vodka! ;)

Love the sound of your dinner, btw, and I've never heard that term for Canadian bacon. Cool.

Jennifer - also not wrong. In fact, its recommended. I should have included it in the instructions!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Juliet - so hard to grab dinner on the run when you're traveling. Happens to the best of us - and hopefully you'll make up for it tonight. :)

Deb said...

Boneless chicken thighs ala Ellie Krieger's recipe with mustard and maple syrup. Yummy and even more amazing cooked by my DH. He followed the recipe I laid out for him and they were delish. He was very proud of imself - this is a real first! I may make a cook of him yet. Although I'm not sure I want all that competition in the kitchen LOL!


The Diva on a Diet said...

Deb - Bravo for you husband! I love that he's taken the cooking plunge and is off to such a great start. Nice! (I do know what you mean about the kitchen competition though! LOL)