Sunday, January 31, 2010

Penne ala Vodka

I realized about four bites in that I’d never actually had penne ala vodka before. That’s probably a good thing – I can see this adding a good three inches to my waistline if I made it regularly! The recipe itself ended up being much easier than I’d anticipated. Everything seemed to work out timing-wise and came together at the end just as the recipe said. I did have to keep asking Laura, though, what things should look like as I went along since I had no reference. “It should be a salmon color, right? Kinda thin - not like an alfredo?”

I’ll be making this recipe again – with a few tweaks. The whole time I was eating, I kept feeling like it was missing something - salt for sure and maybe another herb flavor. I think when I saute the mushrooms next time, I’ll add pancetta and possibly a little thyme. One more layer of flavor in an already delicious sauce works for me. In any case, I can’t wait to have leftovers tonight – this time I’ll remember the bread!

I’ve always been very intrigued by penne ala vodka. I want to order it each time I see it on menus, but I never do. Any time I eat it from a catering place, the pasta is overcooked. I think that’s the reason why I don’t order it. I’ve associated penne ala vodka with overcooked pasta.

When we decided to make this dish, I was thrilled. I’ve been looking for a signature dish and I thought this might be a contender. The truth is that this dish isn’t all that hard to make. You just have to be able to multitask. It’s by no means a one pot meal.

My changes: I made (approximately) two thirds of the recipe. I couldn’t see making a pound and a half of pasta for just myself. I also used light cream instead of heavy cream. The penne were whole wheat. The mushrooms came in 8 ounce containers so I used two of them instead of only 12 ounces.

Changes I’d make next time: I felt like the dish was missing something. I had considered using pancetta or prosciutto, but changed my mind at the end. Sometimes, we should stick with our gut feelings. The dish was also missing an herb flavor. Next time, rosemary or thyme might make it into the mushroom mixture.

Meredith always says that a good gauge for any dish is to ask yourself if you’d serve it to guests and if you’d make it again. I would make it again and I would serve it to company.

Is this my signature dish? No. Baked ziti has always been my signature dish. I guess I was thinking that it was too easy or too commonplace to qualify as a signature dish. Meredith reminded me that after making my own sauce, adding sausage and making the meatballs to go in it that I’ve personalized it to a point where it should be my go to dish. I agreed. However, if something else comes along, I’m open to the idea of having a first runner up. This, however, wasn’t that dish.

Here’s the recipe: Fabulous Penne a La Vodka
Thanks, Koren!


  1. Enjoyed the blog notes for this dish but it too is missing something... a Recipe!! :)