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Spicy Vodka Pasta with Meatballs

August 13, 2009

When I go home, I almost always make some lasagna.  It’s become one of “my” dishes, and my parents love it when I leave at least one in the freezer for later consumption.  This time I felt like making something new for them and, with the help of my sister and her boyfriend, we settled on a pasta dish with meatballs.  To make it extra special, I decided to make a spicy vodka cream sauce to top it off.  We had it with a green salad and roasted garlic bread, plus tiramisu for dessert.  I (lamely) forgot to take a picture of the dessert, but I promise to remember next time!

Spicy Vodka Pasta

Spicy Vodka Pasta

You’ll need…

  • 4 T olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 T dried oregano
  • 2 T dried basil
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small crown of broccoli, chopped up
  • Approx. 1/2 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 T crushed red pepper (more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1 bag frozen Italian meatballs (or make some from scratch!)
  • 1/2 c vodka
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup cream (I’ve used both light and heavy; take your pick)
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh pasta

To start…

  1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and garlic.  Stir occasionally as they soften and begin to brown.
  2. Mix in the spices and add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and heat through.  Add the crushed tomatoes with their juice; mix well.
  4. When simmering, add broccoli and mushrooms.  Stir in the pepper flakes.
  5. Add meatballs and return to a simmer.  Frozen meatballs will take between 5 and 10 minutes to thaw and heat through.
  6. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions.  Drain.
  7. Add vodka to the sauce and bring to near boil.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cream.
  8. Roughly dice fresh mozzarella and chop the fresh basil. (I like to drizzle the mozzarella with some balsamic vinegar, but you don’t have to).
  9. Toss the pasta with the sauce and meatballs.   Gently stir in the fresh mozzarella and basil.
  10. Pour spicy vodka pasta into a serving dish.  Garnish with fresh basil and grated cheese, if desired.
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