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April 09, 2013

Penne Alla Vodka

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Italian cuisine has long stood the test of time but Penne alla Vodka is a new classic in the boot-shaped peninsula. If you couldn’t guess by the name the signature ingredient and what diversifies it from most Italian cuisine is the use of the strong spirit that is vodka. Made with the same 1-2 step of sautéeing garlic in olive oil that begins most Italian recipes this pasta dish also incorporates the staple ingredient of tomatoes. The aforementioned is mixed with vodka and cream for a luscious sauce to be topped over penne pasta. Top the dish with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and buon appetito!

With a unique flavor and plenty of popularity it is no wonder that the history of Penne alla Vodka is a mystery; with several people claiming to be its creator. Some say the dish was invented at Dante, a restaurant in Bologna while others claim James Dotty as the inventor. The Williams Sonoma Essentials of Italian Cooking, cookbook says that in the 80’s a Roman chef invented the pasta for a vodka company to make the hard liquor more popular in Italy. The other explanation is that Napoletan born Luigi Franzese created the sauce and called it Penne alla Russia since it incorporated their claim-to-fame alcohol. Luigi served the dish at a New York restaurant called Orsini in the early 1970’s.

Regardless of who invented the palatable pasta they are forever in my good graces. The dish has now come to include plenty of variations including topping it with prosciutto, utilizing red pepper flakes or fresh flat leaf parsley for a herby taste. Whichever way you decide to try it, Penne alla Vodka has a distinct bite with the same joy you experience with any classic tomato sauce.

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