Spaghetti with Vodka Cream Sauce

From 6 Bittersweets

Adapted from Cooking Light

Serves 3 to 4

XIAOLU'S NOTES: I HIGHLY recommend using fire-roasted canned tomatoes for this recipe -- it adds that much more depth to the flavor! I hesitated to add this detail before when Muir Glen made the only widely available version since they're a bit pricey. Luckily, Hunt's has come out with a version that's even easier to find than Muir Glen's and about as cheap as non-roasted diced tomatoes. Enjoy!

1/2 pound dry thin spaghetti pasta OR any other pasta

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped onion OR 2 to 3 shallots

1/8 to 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper OR 1 dried red chili, split in half

1 garlic clove, minced

Vegetable bouillon cube OR paste in amount used to flavor 1 cup broth

1/2 cup vodka

1/3 to 1/2 tsp salt

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1/4 cup whipping cream

3 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil

Shaved or grated parmesan cheese, to garnish

Additional fresh basil leaves (optional)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and keep warm.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add pepper, garlic, and bouillon; sauté 1 minute. Add vodka (when cooking with alcohol, there is always the chance of it catching on fire, so be very careful); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by about half. Stir in 1/3 teaspoon salt and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and let cool slightly.

IF you have stick blender, you can now puree the sauce right in the pan (easy peasy!). OTHERWISE, place tomato mixture in a conventional blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); and secure the lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters), and process until smooth. Return tomato mixture to pan.

Mix in cream, then cook the sauce for 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in cooked pasta and basil. Taste the pasta and add more salt if needed. Serve immediately.