I actually made this Penne alla Vodka for myself for dinner on Mother's Day (Hey, don't feel too sorry for me! My family made me a fantastic breakfast and helped clean-up! Besides I love to cook!) along with a healthy and delicious Bruschetta recipe from a Cooking Light annual that my kids absolutely adored. Both were fantastic and deserve to be shared with all of you (and made again repeatedly).
Penne alla Vodka
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2/3 c. vodka
3/4 c. canned tomato puree
1 c. heavy cream
1/4 lb. cooked ham, finely chopped
2 drops Tabasco, or to taste
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. penne (14.5 oz. box of Ronzoni Smart Taste used in Nutritional Info.)
3/4 c. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Melt butter in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in vodka, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 4 minutes. Add tomato puree and cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in ham, Tabasco, salt, and pepper. Keep sauce warm over very low heat.
Cook pasta in a 6- to 8- Qt. pot of boiling salted water (1 Tbsp. salt per every 4 Qts. water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 c. cooking water and drain pasta.
Add pasta to sauce and toss with sauce and cheese, adding some of reserved cooking water if pasta seems dry.
If desired, garnish with some additional Parmigiano-Reggiano.