Vodka Cream Pasta with Fresh Basil, Mozzarella and Sundried Tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 small shallot, diced
- 3-4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)
- 6-8 marinated sun-dried tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
- 1 quart tomato sauce (store bought or homemade, pureed smooth)
- 1 cup of vodka
- 1/2 cup of heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
- Coarse sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- fresh unsalted mozzarella, torn into medium pieces, for garnish
- fresh basil leaves, whole or torn, for garnish
- red pepper flakes (optional), for garnish
- 1 pound package of cooked and drained pasta (spaghetti, linguine or penne)
- Cook pasta in a large saucepan according to package directions (until al dente) and drain (reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta water for later); set aside. Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat for about 15 minutes until crispy, drain and crumble.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or pot. Add garlic and shallots, saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add crumbled bacon and sun-dried tomatoes, add salt and pepper to taste. Saute for an additional 5 minutes and turn heat down to medium-low.
- Stir in tomato sauce and vodka into the same saucepan and let simmer (approximately 20 minutes) until the sauce thickens and cooks down. Stir in the heavy cream, fresh oregano and chives and let simmer on low for another few minutes until sauce is heated through.
- Return the pasta back to the large saucepot and ladle some of the sauce into it, along with a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water and toss to coat.
- Ladle coated pasta into serving dishes and top with additional vodka sauce. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, mozzarella, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.