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Fusilli alla Vodka

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Fusilli alla Vodka

Fusilli alla Vodka is the simplest, quickest route to restaurant-worthy pasta comfort at home.

It’s a rainy weekend, and somehow pasta seems right for dinner.

For something that’s creamy and rainy-day comfort, but also not too heavy, we are making Fusilli alla Vodka. This recipe has just enough cream in it to make it indulgent, but basically it’s a tomato and basil sauce, which skews it toward the light side. Either way, Fusilli alla Vodka is super-easy and super-fast – and you likely have all of the ingredients on hand, saving you a trip to the grocery store in the rain. Even better.

Usually Pasta alla Vodka – a '90s staple in every Italian restaurant – calls for penne or rigatoni. We happened to have fusilli in our pantry, which was a happy thing because the twists of the fusilli trap the sauce and cheese and basil, ensuring that you will get a good, saucy bite every time. 

Make Fusilli alla Vodka and serve it with a glass of red and maybe a salad, and you will have transported yourself to a favorite Italian spot. Only now you can be enjoying it all in your dry home, maybe rounding out the '90s vibe with a Sopranos binge.

Fusilli alla Vodka

1 pound fusilli
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¾ cup tomato paste
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup vodka
½ cup cream
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (stacked on top of each other, rolled up together like a cigarette, and then sliced thin), plus more for garnish

Boil a pot of salted water, and cook the fusilli according to the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté until it is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and red pepper flakes, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Add the vodka and stir again for about 3 minutes, until the vodka just about disappears. Lower the heat to low, then slowly stir in the cream to make a pink sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the cooked pasta and the reserved pasta cooking water to the same saucepan, and stir to coat the pasta with the sauce. Stir in the parmesan, then the basil. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and serve garnished with more parmesan and basil.

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