I don’t know what it is, but there is something about a really good creamy pasta dish during the winter months that makes us feel all warm and cheerful inside. In addition, there is also that separate feeling of not only consuming that pasta dish, but making the sauce from scratch as well too! Now, imagine yourself in your kitchen having feelings of warmth, comfort AND being accomplished! You can proudly say: “I made that!” This Pretty Plate Very Merry Vodka Rigatoni pasta dish is sure to give you all of those feels this season.
Not only does this Very Merry Vodka Rigatoni give you all the feels, it gives you a mouthwatering dish in 30 minutes or less! It is the easiest, most satisfying dish to make from scratch. It is made up of minimal key ingredients that also won’t break the bank. Whether you are looking for a tasty week night meal, a dish to impress your family and friends that looks and tastes like ”restaurant quality” or you are craving all the warmth and comfort this dish is for you!
Now, Let’s Talk Booze:
I know what you’re thinking, I can’t believe that there is actually vodka in here! Does it taste like vodka!? Simple answer not at all. When some of you think of vodka it might bring back memories of taking shots back in your college days or even last week HA. Maybe even some memories of your favorite martini from your favorite restaurant or that one vacation you went on pre-covid.
But, with that being said, I created this recipe because I wanted to make new memories with you right in your kitchen and the comfort of your own home. It in fact, can be used in food and it actually might catch you by surprise on how delicious it is! When you add vodka to a sauce it balances out the flavor from the sweet tomato and cream base. In addition, it adds a bit of heat, sharpness and depth in the best possible way.
Also, make sure to use good quality vodka. Just think of those shots or cocktails when you could tell the quality of vodka was not good and you had to choke it down. Please don’t to that to your special pasta dish. Do yourself a favor and give a good dish a good quality vodka that it deserves.
Next, The Noodles:
When it came to the noodles, I opted to pick larger rigatoni noodles. When I think of a really good pasta dish, I think about the times I went to Little Italy in Chicago and I would visit as authentic as it can get Italian restaurants. They had some of the best dishes I have ever tasted. Sauce was extra creamy, cheese was extra fresh and pasta noodles were extra large. I wanted this recipe and dish to have the taste and look as close to restaurant quality as it can get, especially since these days restaurants are not as easily as accessible as they used to be. There is something about the larger noodles that when drenched in the creamy sauce make it extra good. So, the larger = the better!
Last, The Greens:
We all need to get those greens in someway or another am I right or am I right!? So, the inspiration to add in good for you greens not only came about because of the holidays, but because we all want to feel somewhat healthy while being indulgent. I incorporated spinach and peas for extra texture, colors and nutrition.
Now that we have covered the three main aspects of the dish, lets get cooking! Grab that apron and get ready for this recipe to give you all the feels. Tag @prettyplatebymichelle or #prettyplatebymichelle on instagram if you made this dish. I would love to see it and reshare!
Serves 3, INGREDIENTS:
3 Cups rigatoni pasta noodles, cooked (NOTE: mine were very large, so I cooked the entire bag, then measured out 3 cups. But, if you have smaller ones feel free to add in a little more to your discretion. Just make sure there is enough sauce left to stir in and coat the peas and spinach. You do not want the pasta soaking up all of the sauce)
1 Cup reserved pasta water, DO NOT FORGET THIS BEFORE YOU DRAIN
1 Cup heavy cream
1 6 Oz. can tomato paste
1/2 Cup vodka
3 TBSP butter
1 TBSP minced garlic
1/2 Cup yellow onions, finely diced
1/4 TSP red pepper flakes
1/2 Cup shelled English peas (NOTE: this is from the produce section at whole foods and it come in an 8oz bag, do not get canned peas. Click the link and it will show you what the bag looks like from another store.)
1-2 Cups packed baby spinach
1/2 TSP Salt
1/4 TSP Pepper
Grated Parmesan for garnish and to serve on the side
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling add pasta. Boil for 11-15 minutes or until pasta is al dente. NOTE: DO NOT FORGET to reserve 1 cup of pasta water in a separate bowl. Once pasta is done, drain and add a drizzle a little bit of olive oil so noodles don’t stick. Set noodles aside.
In another pan over medium heat. Add 3 TBSP of butter. Once melted add 1/2 cup of your yellow onions and 1 TBSP minced garlic. Cook for 3 minutes or until onions become translucent and fragrant.
Add full can of your tomato paste and 1/4 TSP red pepper flakes. Mix and break up. Cook for another 2 minutes until tomato paste is smooth.
Lower heat to medium low and carefully add your 1/2 cup vodka. Scrap up the bottom to get any tomato paste unstuck. Mix well until vodka and tomato paste mixture are smooth, about 1 minute.
Add in your 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup reserved pasta water. Slowly whisk well to mix. Add in 1/2 TSP salt and 1/4 TSP black pepper. Whisk again to mix.
Once fully mixed, bring to a simmer over medium to low heat for 5-10 minutes.
Once it has thickened a bit, add your 3 cups cooked rigatoni. Mix well.
Add in your 1/2 cup peas and 1-2 cups packed baby spinach. Continue to cook until spinach has wilted and peas are tender but crisp and have a nice crunch as well, about 2-3 minutes.
When done remove from heat and serve right away with grated Parmesan cheese and extra red pepper flakes if desired.
PRETTY PLATE KITCHEN ITEMS USED: