It’s Valentines week, and I decided on Monday that I should “do” something for my guys. Sam and I were in the process of making and mailing Valentines for the cousins, making daddy a valentine, and making e-Valentines for the Grands and the besties. But I hadn’t come up with anything for my guys (plus our pantry is a little bare right this second).
Most of my gifts end up being my cooking, so I decided to bake something for them. I have some yummy blood oranges, and thought a blood orange cake or cookie would be good. Wait, I’m out of flour. Ok, I can still do this. What about a flour-less blood orange cake? Oh, that takes almonds. I have almonds, just not enough. Great. I have nothing!
Then it was almost like Faith from thekitch KNEW I was in trouble, I got an email entitled “Ten fast and fancy weeknight meals for two“. In the post, I found Penne alla Vodka, sounds great right? Couple of problems: we don’t keep Vodka or heavy cream on hand.
I wasn’t sure how my Penne alla Vodka would turn out with me subbing two of the main ingriendents. So, it isn’t our Valentines dinner, that was Mario Battali’s Spagehtti alla Carbonara (a family favorite). This ended up being an accidentally delicious and skinny dish! Sorry there is only one picture, I didn’t expect this meal to be a blog post! I love happy accidents!
Penne alla Vodka is normally around 730 calories, by subbing the heavy cream and vodka and lowering the amount of pasta I cut almost half the calories!
Cooking Spray (or Olive Oil, although that will add to your calorie count)
6 slices Turkey Bacon, chopped
1 cup diced Onion
1 cup chopped Mushrooms (optional)
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or a dash of chili powder)
2 teaspoon sugar
Dash of salt
1/3 cup Sake <— Vodka Replacement! (More on my Vodka replacement in another post!)
2 1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 oz milk
8 oz, half box penne
Parmesan for serving
Spray cooking spray in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4-5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium. Add the onions and mushrooms, cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic, stirring to combine, and sauté for 2 more minutes.
Stir the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, sugar, and salt into the onion mixture. Stir in the Sake and increase heat back to medium-high. Briskly simmer for 8 – 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the alcohol flavor has cooked off.
Meanwhile, melt butter over low heat and stir in milk. Continue to stir periodically while tomatoes are cooking. This will thicken slightly. You can add a touch of corn starch to speed the process up, but it isn’t necessary.
Reduce heat to low on tomato mixture and whisk in cream substitute.
While making the “vodka” sauce, bring a large stockpot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water before draining.
Gently fold the cooked penne and reserved bacon into the “vodka” sauce and continue cooking on low heat for another couple of minutes. Toss with a bit of pasta water if sauce is too thick.
Season with additional salt and red pepper flakes if desired, and serve with fresh Parmesan.
Super delicious! Everyone was pleased, even Sam! This is going into our normal rotation!