Magnifico, Skinny Penne Alla Vodka Sauce

penne-ala-vodka

This restaurant-quality pasta dish is absolutely delicious.  The luscious, creamy, tomatoey vodka sauce is rich, slightly spicy, with just a zing of vodka. Penne Alla Vodka became quite popular in the late 1980s and is still popular today. Normally it includes real cream for richness but I’m using reduced-fat milk. In addition, I’m serving it over fiber-rich whole wheat penne instead of white pasta.  The key to this sauce is using premium vodka.  It adds a clean, fresh taste.  A less expensive brand will give a harsh taste. Each serving has 329 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 9 Blue WW Freestyle SmartPoints, and 9 GreenTry it soon. It’s simply wonderful!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes


Ingredients

1 (28 ounces) can of whole tomatoes or chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

½ cup onions, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

¾ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup Grey Goose or another premium quality vodka, see shopping tips

1 cup reduced-fat milk (2%)

12 ounces dry whole wheat penne pasta

6 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoon minced fresh basil for topping, optional


Instructions

1. In a blender or food processor, puree half the canned tomatoes until smooth.  Chop the remaining tomatoes into ½ inch pieces, discarding the cores.

2.  In a large, nonstick saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil.  Add onions and tomato paste and cook until onions are lightly golden, about 2 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds.

3. Stir in pureed and chopped tomatoes and add salt.  Remove pan from heat and mix in vodka.  Return pan to medium heat and simmer, stirring often, until the alcohol flavor is cooked off, about 8 minutes.  Lower heat if simmering becomes too vigorous.  Stir in milk and cook about 1 minute more, until hot.

4. In the meantime, in a large pot, cook pasta according to directions on package, except, no need to add oil or salt to pot. Make sure to cook al dente, not overcooked.  Drain.

5. Return drained pasta to same pot, add cooked sauce and mix until combined.   Cook over medium heat until pasta absorbs some of the sauce.

6.Plate each serving and top with 1 tablespoon of cheese and a little basil, if desired. If you aren’t serving 6, this sauce freezes great for another time.

7. Note: this recipe can easily be cut in half to make 3 servings.

Makes 6 main-course servings. Each ~1⅔ cups, including cheese topping


Food Facts

Although a simple dish of penne, vodka, tomatoes, and cream was fashionable in Italy in the 1980s, Joanna’s Restaurant in New York made it popular in America.

Vodka is a clear, colorless, unaged liquor.  Its name comes from Russia and means, “Water of life.”


Healthy Benefits

Many studies have linked higher consumption of cooked tomato products with reduced risk of prostate and other cancers.  Tomato products contain some B vitamins along with vitamin C.

Choosing whole wheat pasta adds more fiber per serving.


Shopping Tips

This sauce works equally well with whole wheat rigatoni, spaghetti, or angel hair pasta.

I found that a tube of tomato paste is more convenient than canned when a recipe calls for just one tablespoon.  The tube is stored in the refrigerator for later use.  You’ll find it in the pasta sauce section of most supermarkets.

You’ll love the price savings on Premium quality brands of vodka such as Belvedere or Grey Goose at Costco.


Serving Tips

Serve this main course pasta with my recipe,  Caesar Asparagus, Low in Calories, Big on Deliciousness, or SUPER LOW CALORIE CAESAR SALAD ON A STICK


WW Freestyle SmartPoints
9-Blue
WW SmartPoints
9-Green

WW
POINTS PLUS 8

SKINNY FACTS: for 1 serving (~1⅔ cups) includes cheese topping
329 calories, 7g fat, 2g sat. fat, 7mg chol, 14g protein, 56g carbs, 9g fiber, 489mg sodium, 6g sugar
FACTS: for SmartPoints
280 calories, 2g sat. fat, 11g protein, 5g sugar

If you make this recipe, let me know how you liked it. Leave me a comment below or give it a rating. Thanks so much. Happy Skinny Cooking!