Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rigatoni a la Vodka - Non-dairy

This was so delicious, I have to share!  Very non-restaurant ingredients with restaurant-worthy flavor.  I used leftover rigatoni and rewarmed it in my semi-homemade thick, creamy sauce.

What I did this time:
  1. Pulse in a food processor: 1 medium red onion, 2-3 cloves garlic.  While blade is spinning, quickly drop in about 10 fresh cherry tomatoes and then stop food processor.  (You can add bell pepper or mushrooms if you like...whatever you want to use up.)
  2. Add to pan/pot with hot olive oil and sauté briefly.
  3. Add a jar/box/can of crushed tomatoesI used a small carton of very smooth "strained crushed tomatoes."  But you can use whatever you have in the house, be it tomato juice, tomato paste, or stewed tomatoes.  Just play with the consistency by blending or adding additional liquid.
  4. Simmer sauce and season to taste.  My fresh herbs couldn't take this heat, so I used ground coriander seeds, dry basil, ground red pepper flakes, and salt. 
  5. Add Vodka.  Yes, real vodka.  However much you can afford... maybe 1/4 cup.  Tomatoes contain alcohol soluble flavors that can only be thoroughly enjoyed when cooked with alcohol.  There is no way to scientifically determine how much alcohol has "cooked off," so consider your audience and pour responsibly.*
  6. Continue to simmer.  Then stir in the secret ingredient...  (Don't tell my husband.)  It's not heavy cream, it's...dun dun dun... hummus!  Yes, store bought creamy hummus, about two tablespoons, enough to lighten the color and slightly thicken the sauce.  (No whole chick peas or it will give away the secret!) 

And that is my secret to thick, hearty, rose sauces or vegan "salsa rosa."  The sauce also gets a great texture from the chopped onions and tomatoes in the smooth strained tomatoes.  Enjoy!

*CDKitchen has a brief article, Dispelling the Greatest Culinary Urban Myth, summarizing the 1992 study that all the alcohol does not cook off.  For more on cooking with alcohol, watch Good Eats episodes "The Proof is in the Pudding" and "Fermentation Nation."

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