Cookbook Used: Feast
Author: Nigella Lawson
I’ve been wanting to recreate a post
Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella
did about 2 years ago, for quite some time. Being Valentine’s day, I wanted to cook instead of being sucked into banquets and other over priced set menus that restaurants were offering. So I thought, “Ah-ha! I’ll do the penna alla vodka… but it’s not in a cookbook I own.” Then I re-read Lorraine’s post, and I found it was in a cookbook I owned; alas, the love theme was covered.
I headed to Aldi for the heart pasta, heart biscuits and picked up a chocolate rose whilst I was there.
I own quite a few books by Nigella, but I have previously never had too much success with them. I’m not the only one, Rilsta from My Food Trail
also has hesitations when trying a Nigella Lawson recipe.
This dish was very easy to make. The tomato sauce was pretty much instant. I cooked the onion for just under the time required; but still longer than I usually would cook the onion for. It was deliciously sweet and caramelized, thus meaning I didn’t have to add any sugar to the sauce for extra sweetness.
I possibly added a smidge too much vodka, but Hamsley didn’t complain. I did end up flaking some smoked ham through the pasta, as my man likes his meat. I’m glad I did, as the smokeyness of the ham cut through the vodka-y taste of the pasta.
It was a lovely dish, and I would definitely make it again.
And since I re-created the full meal; my delicious red-velvet Valentine’s day cupcakes:
Penne Alla Vodka
Get your hands on:
1/2 good sized onion
1 tablespoons garlic-infused oil
410g can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon double cream
500g Heart pasta or penne rigate or other short, preferably ridged, pasta
65 ml vodka
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Serve it with:
Parmesan for grating over at the table
1. If you are cooking this just before you eat, put the water on to boil before you start the sauce. You will need a big pan, enough to take the pasta and its sauce later.
2. Finely chop the onion, either by hand or in a processor. In a large pan, heat the garlic oil and add the finely chopped onion and a good sprinkling of salt. Cook the onion fairly gently for about 15 minutes without letting it catch and burn, which just means giving it a stir every now and again. It should be very soft and just beginning to caramelize.
3. Tip in the can of chopped tomatoes and continue cooking over a gentle heat, simmering for another 15-20 minutes. If you’re cooking this ahead, and I always do, stop here.
4. Reheat the almost finished tomatoes (or just continue as you were if you’re making this in one unbroken fluid movement), stir in the double cream and take the pan off the heat. When the water for the pasta comes to the boil add a good measure of salt and tip in the penne. Set a timer for 3-4 minutes less than the packet instructions for cooking it, as you want to make sure it’s cooked al dente and will need to start tasting early.
5. Drain the cooked pasta, tip it back in the pan and pour over the vodka, add the butter and some more salt. Turn the penne in the vodka and melting butter and then tip it into the tomato sauce unless it is easier to pour the tomato sauce over the pasta: it depends on the sizes of the pans you are using.
6. Toss the pasta in the sauce until it is evenly coated and turn out into a large, warmed bowl. Put it on the table along with a block of Parmesan and a grater.