Though it may seem like a gimmick to add vodka to pasta, the spirit actually enhances the flavor of the tomatoes, especially if you use garden-fresh ones instead of canned. If you’d like, use an infused pepper vodka to give the sauce a little kick.—Jessica Battilana
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking 1 minute more. Carefully pour in the chopped tomatoes (they may spatter) and the vodka, and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes begin to break down and become saucy, about 10 minutes. Pour in the cream and butter, stir to combine, and season to taste with salt. Remove from the heat and set aside.
When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Return the sauce to low heat, and add the pasta directly to the pan with the sauce. Add a splash of the reserved pasta cooking water, and stir until the pasta is well-coated with sauce, adding more pasta cooking water as necessary. Season to taste with pepper. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve hot.
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