Sunday, March 13, 2011

Penne Alla Vodka

I'm so excited to tell you all about this dish because I think it's going to be a new fave.

Actually, it's already my new fave. I guess I just need to tell you about it then.

A while ago, on Twitter, I randomly saw someone reference Rocco DiSpirito's latest cookbook "Now Eat This". Well, it probably wasn't that random. I follow a bunch of foodies so I'm sure it was bound to happen sooner or later. To satisfy my curiosity, I looked up the cookbook and saw that each of the recipes in the book was 350 calories or less. Now I'm not on a diet, but there's nothing wrong with eating healthy. And of course if there are fewer calories involved, I feel so much better about going back for seconds!

Now, it's time for me to make an admission of guilt: I added calories back into this dish.

Yep, I did that. But in my defense, I was trying to use up items that I already had in the apartment. And for some reason (I don't know why!) these items weren't as healthy as the ingredients which were called for in this dish. But they could still act as substitutes, so I went ahead and used them. I grabbed regular pasta instead of whole wheat pasta and used up some compost spaghetti sauce instead of using Rocco's Low-Fat Marinara Sauce. See, that wasn't so bad, right?

Penne Alla Vodka
adapted from Rocco DiSpirito's No Cream-No Cry Penne Alla Vodka
(serves 8)

  • 16 ounces penne pasta
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup compost spaghetti sauce (something like this)
  • 3 cups Tomato Basil spaghetti sauce
  • crushed red pepper
  • 2 7-oz containers 2% Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until pasta has the desired texture.

2) In the meantime, add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until transparent, 3-5 minutes.

3) Add the spaghetti sauces and crushed red pepper to the saucepan.

4) Bring to a simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat.

5) Stir ~1/2 cup of marinara sauce into the yogurt to temper it and prevent the yogurt from curdling.

6) Stir until the mixture is smooth, then whisk the mixture back into the marina sauce.

5) Add the drained penne pasta, marinara sauce, basil, and cheese in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I actually forgot to add the crushed pepper in Step 3 when I made this, but I just added it in at the end. If you wanted to, you could also brown some ground beef (or other type of meat) in the saucepan before adding the sauce.

This dish was creamy and comforting in the best way possible. I didn't even notice that the yogurt replaced the cream. And if you love the tomato-basil combination, then this recipe will be your new best friend, as it is mine.

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