Linguini Tossed with Vodka Blush Sauce, Sundried Tomatoes, and Asparagus

Adapted From The Pioneer Woman

Recipe Tips:

  • DON'T simmer this recipe for hours like you do other homemade tomato sauce recipes.  
  • DO use a little extra pasta water if the consistency is too thick when tossed with pasta.

1 pound pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vodka
1 14 oz. can of tomato puree or diced tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt, add more if desired
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup reserved pasta water
1 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
1/2 cup sliced sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced asparagus (2 inch pieces)
parsley for garnish

Begin by preparing your asparagus.  First wash your asparagus and break the ends off.  The trick to breaking your asparagus is finding the natural breaking point.  Do this by feeling for the position on your asparagus that transitions from firm to loose.  It will be about 1/4 the length of the asparagus from the bottom.  Repeat this step to all of your asparagus.  Meanwhile, prepare a pot of boiling water.  Put your asparagus into the pot and cook for 3 minutes.  Then immediately spoon your asparagus out of the boiling pot and drop them into a bowl of ice water.  This method shocks the asparagus and stops it from continuing to cook.  You want your asparagus to have a nice crunch to it.  Finish by cutting your asparagus into 2 inch pieces and set aside.  Prepare your sundried tomatoes by Slicing lengthwise about 1/4 inch thickness and set aside.

To prepare your sauce, melt the butter with the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes.  Then add 1 cup of vodka and cook at a low boil for 5 minutes to cook the alcohol out of the vodka.  Add the tomato puree and stir until combined.  Then add the cream and stir until blended.  Lower the temperature to medium/low and allow to cook at a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly (be careful not to overheat).  With 5 minutes remaining, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your pasta according to the directions on the package.  Meanwhile, continue to work on your sauce by using a hand blender to puree the onions into a smooth consistency.  Season with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes at medium/low temperature.

Finish by adding your linguini to the sauce, reserving 1 cup of pasta water in case sauce is too thick. Toss your pasta into the sauce until coated.  Then add your chopped asparagus, sundried tomatoes, and parmesan cheese (optional).  Toss until combined and serve with a garnish of sprinkled parsley.