Yes, I know what you are thinking. Gin cream sauce? But, bear with me friends! Think vodka sauce. As in, Pasta Alla Vodka. You can get on board with that, right? I am totally on board for vodka sauce – I love the stuff. Perfect comfort food/date food/all-the-time food. I wanted to spice up the traditional Italian sauce a bit however, and try it with gin instead of vodka. Gin is a little earthier, more herby – I thought it might be a perfect addition. I think I was right!
This pasta with gin cream sauce doesn’t necessarily taste earthier, but it does have an additional zing that makes it special. It’s subtle, but it’s there. The recipe is for the sauce, which I then baked with veggies, noodles and ricotta, but it would be lovely over pasta as well. It tastes even better the second day, so pop it in the fridge for an easy snack.
Much of my inspiration for this post came from Alexandra’s Kitchen – she makes a version of Ina Garten’s vodka sauce that helped refine the method I’m using here. Check out Alexandra’s Kitchen for more.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 Teaspoon red chili flakes
1 can crushed tomatoes (my favorite is San Marzano)
1/2 Cup vodka
1/2 Cup gin
1 17 oz package of penne noodles, or whatever you like
4 Tablespoons butter
1 zucchini, chopped
1 Cup mushrooms, chopped
1 bunch spinach, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 Cup cream
1/2 Cup Parmesan
1/2 Cup Ricotta
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In an oven safe pan (hello cast iron skillet!) heat the oil. Add onions, garlic, red pepper and oregano. Cook until fragrant and onions are translucent.
Carefully add in the tomatoes, simmer until heated through.
Add in the vodka and gin – cook for 5 -7 minutes, mixture will reduce slightly.
Put the whole thing in the oven and keep it cooking. The flavors will all co mingle and such. I didn’t have much time, so just left the pan in there for 30 minutes. You can cook it for up to 90 minutes, which would give you ideal flavors.
If you’re just interested in the sauce, not the baked version I made, skip on down to the part where I whip out the blender. Otherwise, read on!
Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to package directions.
In another skillet, melt half the butter and saute your veggies until slightly softened, salting to taste.
Once you’re satisfied with your tomato mixture, carefully remove it from the oven. I would suggest an apron if you have one. Crank up the heat on your oven a bit, to about 400 degrees.
Working in batches, use a blender to smooth out all the bumps in your vodka sauce.
After it’s all blended, slowly add the cream to the sauce, stirring it in ever so gently.
Use the remainder of the butter to coat the inside of an oven safe dish (a dutch oven is my go-to for this). Layer noodles, veggies, sauce and cheeses however you like, cover and put the whole thing in the oven.
Everything is already cooked at this point, so you’re really just heating it up. I actually turned the oven off, covered the thing, and left it for my boyfriend to find for dinner.