Nick & Toni’s Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola

This pasta was easy to make and my family enjoyed it. What I liked about the sauce, is that it is a vodka marinara with a little kick. 

Serves 4
¼ cup good olive oil 
2 1/2 cups chopped Spanish onion (1 large) 
1 tablespoons minced garlic (3 cloves) 
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
1½ teaspoons dried oregano leaves 
1 cup vodka 
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
3/4 pound penne pasta 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves, plus extra for serving 
1 cup heavy cream 

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving 


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Heat the oil in a large (12-inch) oven-proof sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the red pepper and dried oregano and cook for 1 more minute. Add the vodka and continue cooking for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture is reduced by half. 

When the onions are ready, crush each tomato with your hands into the pan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and bake for 1 1/2 hours. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta and cook for 11 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside. 
Carefully pour the cooked tomato mixture in a blender in small batches and puree until smooth. Return the tomato mixture to the pan (be careful – the handle is hot!). Add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 2 tablespoons of the fresh oregano, and the cream and simmer partially covered for 10 minutes. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve hot sprinkled with extra Parmesan and chopped fresh oregano. 

Ina Garten, 2012 Barefoot Contessa Foolproof

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