After a summer-long hiatus, our weekly dinners had resumed and we have a new member to our group….another girl from the hood who from this point forward will be referred to as "The Singer."
No initiation rituals, just a pledge to feed us every 4th week.
I inaugurated this season of culinary adventures with my Vodka Penne. I usually make this using sub-standard Vodka, but over the summer I ran out of the cheap stuff and had to make this recipe using Grey Goose and I could not believe the difference in the taste of this house specialty. Needless to say, I will never, never, ever use cheap vodka again.
Isn’t that last sentence a double-negative?
Sister Carmella would be annoyed.
Being a curious sort, I asked myself what distinguishes premium Vodkas like Grey Goose, Ketel One, or Absolut from their less desirable counterparts. Apparently, different vodka tastes are influenced by the grain used, the number of times the grain is distilled, and the type of water used to dilute the grain after distillation. Grey Goose, for example, boasts that its Vodka is distilled from “French wheat and is made with spring water from Gensac that is naturally filtered through champagne limestone.”
My Vodka Penne recipe:
Sauté several cloves of garlic, a ¾ teaspoon of sea salt, and ¼ to ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it) in 3 tablespoons of olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add a can of San Marzano crushed tomatoes and let that mixture simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile cook your penne pasta….I like to use whole wheat pasta. After the sauce has simmered for 20-25 minutes, add the pasta, toss.
Add 1/3 cup of vodka, toss.
Then add ½ to 1 cup of Half & Half (depending on how creamy you like it), toss.
Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and serve. I added grilled chicken as well.
We also had an arugula, grapefruit and goat cheese salad, the most beautiful – and I might add delicious – fig tart and two (yes, two) bottles of wine.
A delightful start to a new season of dinners.