The main reason I used fusilli instead of penne in this recipe was because it was the only pasta I had at home, but it turned out that fusilli was a much better choice because the sauce coated onto the pasta better. The sauce didn’t slip out from the tubes as it would with penne. No pasta sauce was able to escape from the fusilli, so every bite was perfect!
This is a classic pasta that only requires a few simple ingredients that we usually have in our pantries. From chopping to serving, it takes approximately 15 minutes. Skip the chili flakes if you want to serve it to kids.
Half pack of fusilli or penne or other short, tube-shaped pasta
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup good quality unflavored vodka
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup double concentrated tomato paste
1 tsp chili flakes
2 tbsp unsalted butter for cooking
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil leaves for serving
Boil water in a medium pot with 1 heaping tablespoon of sea salt.
Meanwhile, heat butter in another medium pot on medium-high heat, and cook chopped onion and smashed garlic until they are browned all over, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
Add tomato paste and chili flakes and stir to combine. The mixture should turn dark red after 1-2 minutes. If it turns dark too soon or starts scorching, lower the heat or remove the pot from the heat. Once it’s cooled down a little, return the pot back to the stove and lower heat to medium.
Add vodka and use a spatula to scrap out the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Then add 1/4 cup of boiling water directly from the pasta water pot, stirring briefly to combine. Add heavy cream and keep stirring. The mixture will bubble a lot at first. Lower heat immediately and stir again until well combined. The sauce should be now creamy and smooth. Keep warm while you prepare the pasta.
Cook pasta for 1 minute less than indicated on the package. Once the pasta is ready, remove with a spider utensil and transfer directly to warm vodka tomato sauce (it is okay to transfer a bit of the pasta water into the sauce). Add parmesan cheese and about 1/3 of the reserved pasta water at a time to get the consistency you want.
Stir vigorously with a wooden spatula until the sauce is smooth and the pasta is well coated, adding more pasta water if needed. The sauce should look silky and the pasta should be nicely coated. Season with salt and pepper and tear fresh basil leaves to sprinkle on top. Serve immediately.