Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Penne with Vodka Sauce

This week I really tried to think of a 'Mother's Day' recipe, but quite honestly this recipe reminds me of my sister in oh so many ways. See, she loves vodka sauce. We weren't a pasta family growing up, but every time I visit her she has a jar of vodka sauce nestled neatly along side spaghetti sauce and canned beans. The dietitian in me mindfully says, "Oh lovely, vodka sauce...cholesterol and fat lathered sludge." I know it may taste good, but it hardly gets near ranking on the healthy scale.

Well, wait until you discover this plant based version that uses cashews for the cream. Absolutely unbelievable. My sister has yet to try this deliciousness (I promise it's MUCH better than that Shepard's Pie I so horribly failed at), but I know she would be wooed and wowed.
Penne with Vodka Sauce
Serves 4-6

1 pound whole wheat penne
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup water

1. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Add cashews and boil for 10 minutes to soften before blending. Drain and reserve 1 cup water.
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add whole wheat penne and cook according to package. Drain and reserve.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant. Stir in crushed tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper, adjust to taste as needed. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vodka and cook 10 additional minutes, continuing to stir occasionally.
4. While sauce is cooking, add cashews and reserved water in a blender. Blend on high until cashew cream is very smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Stir cashew cream into tomato sauce and turn off the heat. Adjust seasonings as you need and pour over hot pasta. Enjoy!

Note: I added 1/2 onion and 1 cup mushrooms while garlic was cooking as we like chunky pasta sauce. Feel free to do the same or omit for a more authentic vodka sauce.

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