My daughter and I had a “girls night” with my friend and her daughters the other night. My friends are vegetarians, so I made two batches of this sauce- one with and the other without pancetta. (I doubled the recipe below.) Both were absolutely DELICIOUS!
I used a GIANT can (6+ pounds) of San Marzano tomatoes-from Costco, and just used half for each batch. I served the sauce over a choice of regular or whole wheat penne noodles from Trader Joes’s.
This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe. It’s a simple and perfect version of this classic Italian-American sauce. This dish is a crowd pleaser. 🙂
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 ounces pancetta, diced (optional)
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup vodka (I used lemon vodka)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- One 35-ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes with their juices, crushed by hand
- pinch of granulated sugar
- 2 basil sprigs, plus more for garnish, as desired
- coarse salt, to taste (about 1/2 to 3/4 tsp)
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 pound of penne noodles, cooked according to package directions
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil. (I used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
- Sauté the pancetta, garlic and crushed red pepper over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the vodka. (Be careful- it will splatter.)
- Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Add the canned tomatoes with their juices. (I crushed them by hand as I added them.)
- Stir in the sugar and basil, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.
- Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and is reduced to 3 cups, at least 30 minutes.
- Season again with salt and pepper, to taste. Discard the basil sprigs and garlic, if desired. (I left the garlic in the sauce.)
- Add heavy cream and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Garnish with chopped fresh basil and serve.
Note: Using the same giant can of San Marzano tomatoes, I have doubled this recipe every time I’ve made it since! The additional sauce freezes perfectly.