Sunday, June 26, 2011

Culinary Sunday: Sub-3 Marathoner Pasta!

I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love to run. Fortunately, running and eating are two activities that go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, one usually usurps the time it takes for the other, so the only days I really do much cooking are Friday nights or Sunday nights, since I don't run either day. Tonight, we opted for Chinese food since we were running sort of late after the grocery store, but I'm going to try to make a habit out of posting a favorite recipe here Sunday night.

Rigatoni con vodka was a big thing in my family - it's one of Dad's favorites at Italian Delight, and he orders it every time he sees it on a menu. When we went to Italy, we discovered it's really more of an American-idea-of-Italian-food item (read: only served at touristy type places) but it's still quite good. You can buy vodka sauces here in jars, but you won't get the same effect unless you cook the pasta IN the sauce, otherwise it won't stick.

Though personally, I prefer to make my own. Since Brian doesn't drink much anymore but had a huge unopened bottle of vodka in his cabinet, I make this a lot. This has turned into a Friday night (pre-run dinner) favorite for Brian, the sub-3 marathoner and vegetable hater, and I - and it's moderately healthy, too.

Rigatoni Con Vodka
Serves: 2-4
Prep time: 45 minutes

1 - 28 oz can stewed tomatoes, whole
1 - 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes, whole
10 garlic cloves, peeled
4T olive oil
1/4c vodka
1/2c heavy cream
Red Pepper Flakes (to taste)
1 box whole wheat rigatoni, penne, or other tube pasta
1 wedge fresh parmesan, shredded

Put tomatoes in the blender or in a food processor. Pulse a few times until tomatoes are finely chopped or JUST turned pink (don't let them get frothy).

Heat olive oil in a large pot/skillet. Gently crush garlic cloves with the side of a knife and add to pan, tossing for a few minutes until lightly browned. Add tomatoes to pot SLOWLY (they'll splatter) and stir. Heat to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add red pepper flakes (to taste), salt (to taste), and 1/4c. vodka. Stir occasionally.

While the tomatoes are reducing, cook pasta in salted boiling water according to directions on the box minus a minute or two or until very al dente. Drain and return to pan.

Fish the garlic cloves out of the tomato mixture. They'll be nice and soft. I like to chop about 5-6 of them and return them to the sauce. (or spread them on Italian bread!)

When tomatoes have reduced to desired consistency (usually about 1/4in down in the pan - I just kind of eyeball it), remove from heat and stir in 1/2c. cream. Add sauce mixture to the drained pasta and heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce sticks to pasta (about 5-10 minutes). I stir in about 1/2c. parmesan cheese and serve topped with parmesan. :)


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