Showing posts with label penne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label penne. Show all posts

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Penne a la Vodka

by Peg Cochran

I have a vodka pasta recipe that an acquaintance gave me thirty years ago (I remember being pregnant with my daughter and she is now thirty!)  She had cut it out from Bon Appetit Magazine and they, in turn, had gotten the recipe from some fancy restaurant in Rome.  The sauce had obscene amounts of butter and cream in it and also called for pepper vodka (you can buy it or make your own by soaking a hot pepper in some vodka for a few days.)  I can't, in all good conscience, eat something that rich anymore.  I am always mindful of my next doctor's check-up and what my blood test will reveal about my cholesterol!  So far I have avoided needing medication, and I'd like to keep it that way.

I experimented with the basic sauce ingredients and came up with this lighter version.  It's still not exactly diet food, but with portion control, isn't too bad. Of course controlling the portion is the hard part!  This is supposed to serve four (3 ounce portions each) but realistically three people could probably do it justice.

12 ounces penne
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes (or 1 28-ounce can)
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/3 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook penne according to direction.  Personally I like mine al dente so I check it a bit earlier than it says on the box.   

Cook your sauce first--remember, the sauce waits for the pasta, the pasta never waits for the sauce! This is very quick and perfect for a weeknight dinner that is fast but tastes like it comes from a gourmet restaurant.  

Saute the shallots  in the oil over medium heat until softened--about three minutes or so.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for a minute (be careful not to burn the garlic.)  Remove from the heat and add the vodka.  Add diced tomatoes and bring to a boil (to burn off alcohol.)  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir in the heavy cream and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken slightly.  Stir in the Parmesan.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss.  Serve with extra Parmesan cheese.

Note:  you may want to add salt to the sauce -- I try to keep my sodium intake to a minimum, but if it's not an issue for you, season away!

Mince shallots

Saute shallots in olive oil

Add garlic, red pepper and tomatoes

Stir in cream and cook until thickened slightly and stir in Parmesan

Serve with extra Parmesan on the side

Buon Appetito!

Lucille Mazzarella, the Italian Jersey housewife in my Lucille Mystery Series, would definitely make something like this for her family.  Confession Is Murder and Unholy Matrimony are available now.  I also write the Gourmet De-Lite books including Allergic to Death, Steamed to Death and Iced to Death.  Funny, but there's food in all of them!  Well, I love to cook and I do like to eat!

I'm on Facebook! or visit my web site.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to Make Pretty Penne and Perfect Pumpkin Pancakes + 2 Fun Giveaways via Cleo Coyle

I have two treats for you
this Halloween Week!

Treat Number 1: Cozy Mystery Book Reviews is celebrating the Culinary Mystery this week, and I am happy to be part of it with a guest recipe post and giveaway. 

If you leave a comment on my guest post (click here), you will be entered to win a signed copy of my latest Coffeehouse Mystery: A Brew to a Kill, in its beautiful hardcover edition along with a bookmark hand embroidered by Bella, the blog owner, with some very sage advice: Keep Calm and Read a Coffeehouse Mystery!

(Isn't Bella's bookmark adorable? >>>)

The recipe I'm sharing at Bella's blog is one of my fall favorites, Perfect Pumpkin Pancakes with warm Butter Pecan Sauce. If you missed my previous chances to share this recipe, you can hop over to Bella's blog now and check it out. 

The drawing for A Brew to a Kill and the Coffeehouse bookmark is next Monday, Oct. 29th, and you have until then to leave a comment for the giveaway.

As for Treat Number 2,  you will
find it 
below today's recipe!

Behold one of my favorite fast meals....

With an Italian-born mom and aunt, I grew up on spaghetti aglio e olio. Mom and Aunt Mary did it traditionally. Now I do it my way with high-fiber penne and broccoli!

A word on the pasta...

I've been trying out various "healthier" pasta products recently, and I've become enamored with the Ronzoni "Smart Taste" pasta (pictured right). This high-fiber pasta has a taste like regular pasta, and that's a big success in our house since I simply cannot persuade my husband to eat whole wheat pasta or anything that doesn't taste like standard Italian pasta. This does, I'm happy report; I just bought a boatload of it for our fall pantry... 

...and here is one of
the many ways I use it!

Cleo Coyle's
Penne with Broccoli
and "Fast-Infused"
Garlic Olive Oil

For a PDF of this recipe that you can print, save or share, click here.


1 bunch broccoli chopped into florets (or 3½ to 4 cups florets)  

1 twelve-ounce box of pasta (I use high-fiber Ronzoni Smart Taste, penne,  spaghetti, or thin spaghetti) 

* 2–4 cloves of garlic 

* ¼ cup (+ just a splash more) extra virgin olive oil 

* 2–4 tablespoons grated Romano, 
Parmesan, or aged (hard) Asiago cheese 

* Dried Italian seasonings mix to taste (oregano, basil, rosemary) 

* Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Tips: Flavor is the key to this recipe. For best results, (1) be sure to infuse the olive oil with as powerful a garlic flavor as you have time to impart; and (2) don’t skimp on the grated cheese or dried herbs. I recommend an Italian seasoning mix to save time, but you can do your own thing with dried oregano, basil, and rosemary.


(1) First steam or boil the broccoli until fork-tender (12 to 15 minutes). While broccoli is cooking infuse the olive oil with garlic as directed in my note below. 

(2) When broccoli is finished cooking, drain it over a large bowl to catch the broccoli-infused water. Transfer this water to a deep pot, add more water, a splash of oil, and salt and boil the pasta according to package directions. 

(3) Drain the pasta and return it to the same pot in which you boiled it. Toss in the broccoli. Drizzle on the garlic-infused olive oil and mix well with the pasta and broccoli. Mix in the grated cheese (to your taste) and dried Italian seasonings to taste (I use about 1 teaspoon). Finish with (optional) freshly ground black pepper. 

How to quickly infuse garlic into olive oil: Place the oil in a small saucepan and place over low heat. Add roughly chopped and/or crushed garlic. (The chopping and crushing help to release the flavor.) Applying the heat to the garlic and oil will speed up the infusion. After ten minutes, check for desired flavor. If you’d like a stronger flavor, continue heating for another five minutes. Remove the garlic chunks from the oil, use in the recipe above, and...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Treat #2
(You found it!)

Enter to win $25.00 in books (via gift card), an NYPD travel mug, and a signed copy of A Brew to a Kill by entering my 2nd Printing Party contest at Fresh Like Bella's contest, this one ends on Monday, Oct. 29th.

To enter the Fresh Fiction
click here

Good luck! 

Yes, this is me - Cleo Coyle
Learn about my books here.

Friend me on Facebook here.
Follow me on Twitter here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

To get more of my recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit
my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.