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Pasta with Spicy Tomato-Vodka Sauce and Meatballs

Recipe: Pasta with Spicy Tomato-Vodka Sauce and Meatballs


    This dish would really surprise guests during the summer would be a pasta dish with meatballs. If it's not too hot out, this can be a perfect alternative to grilling out.

    It can also solve your "special diets" dilemma. Sometimes you don't know what kind of diets your guests are on. This recipe lets you accommodate either vegetarian or low-carb. Put it all in one platter to serve, or separate each item so those with dietary restrictions can pick and choose.

    Some garlic bread and a Zola's Caesar Salad will round out the entrée. Serve with Limoncello Italian liqueur drizzled over ice cream or vanilla gelato, and you have an entire summer meal.

Serves 4


    3 cloves garlic, minced (Jar garlic is fine.)
    1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste, more or less)
    3 Tbl olive oil (extra virgin if you have it)
    1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes (You can use the ones with Italian spices added if you'd like. And if your garden tomatoes are looking good, you can chop those instead.)
    1/4 cup vodka (Any brand will work. Do not use flavored vodka, e.g. citrus.)
    1/4 cup heavy cream
    Salt and pepper to taste
    1 pint cherry tomatoes
    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (Bagged, already grated in advance will do fine.)
    2 Tbl fresh basil cut into teeny strips
    16 oz Italian, precooked meatballs (Frozen is fine. No need to thaw.)
    1 pound pasta (Penne and rigatoni work best.)


    Put your pasta pot (large) on to boil. (This takes the longest of the whole meal.)

    While the water is coming to a boil, get out a large sauté pan. Add the olive oil, garlic and peppers. Heat this on Medium High until it starts to sizzle. Don't heat it too long. If the garlic gets brown, the taste will be very rusty.

    As soon as it's sizzling, add the tomatoes and vodka. (This is a vodka sauce, so I have no non-alcohol substitute. I guess you could try it with non-alcoholic wine.) Bring to a simmer. Add the meatballs, even right from the freezer! Heat this mixture on Medium until the meatballs are thawed and everything is hot. Should be about 15 minutes.

    By then the pasta water should be boiling. Add your pasta. Follow the directions on the package, but most penne and rigatoni take about 15 minutes to cook.

    Go back to your sauce. Add the cream, the pint of cherry tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Turn your heat to Low and add your Parmesan. Stir. Leave simmer until the pasta is completed. When you dish up the sauce, sprinkle on the basil. The aroma will be heavenly.

    When finished, thoroughly drain your pasta.

Serving Suggestions:

    Add more grated cheese to the finished dish to be served, if you'd like. (Also see serving suggestions in the "Introductory Remarks.")


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