Sunday, March 7, 2010

Penne Vodka



A few weeks ago, the It Ain't Meat, Babe blog (which is awesome and something I recommend you check out regularly) held a Kitchen Fails contest. And since I have many kitchen fails stories, particularly from the just-turned-vegetarian-and-I-don't-know-how-to-cook era, I entered twice (once via the blog and once via Facebook). Low and behold, I won! As my prize, my neighbour to the north sent me a copy of Veganomicon, a cookbook I have been drooling over in many a Chapters aisle since I turned vegan, but never bought because I have so many cookbooks that it's going to take me twenty years to get through all the recipes I want to try (I've got time if you've got time!). Well, let's up that number to 30 years because this cookbook has some really exciting things in it.



Whenever I get a new cookbook, I proceed as follows: I flip through it once. Then I flip through it more thoroughly, marking which recipes I am most interested in. I then add the cookbook to my shelf and subsequent cookbook rotation. I typically try one new dinner recipe a week, so I pull out the cookbook that corresponds with the week and blindly select one of the markers. That is what I make that week. It's a very fair and formal process - I don't like to play favourites with my cookbooks and recipes. For the record, when it comes to recipes I find online I save them in an email and work from oldest to newest. I am just now getting to recipes I copied and pasted over a year ago. If you thought you could get rid of me, take note - This is Vegan will be around forever! Muahahaha.

And now that my obsessive compulsive cookbook habits are out there for the world to gawk at (you should see how uncomfortable and frantic I get if I accidentally mess up the order) I should note that since I just got this cookbook via the mail this past week, this was obviously not its week for a new recipe. But I had to try something and so I found this simple recipe for penne vodka that I happened to have all the ingredients on hand for (except for vodka...but like I need an excuse to go out and buy a bottle of vodka).

My kitchen and myself become a disaster zone when I make pasta sauce. I have not mastered the art of not having it splatter all over the freaking place while it simmers and I try and stir it. Paul always calls my attempts "Dad's Famous Spaghetti Sauce" after this ridiculous infomercial for a cleaning product that we watched in the middle of the night once, where this man is making spaghetti sauce and gets it all over the pristine, white kitchen and the brilliant wife comes in with the cleaning product to show him what an ass he is (as an aside, why are men always portrayed as such idiots in infomercials?). Thankfully our kitchen isn't white, but there was tomato everywhere. I really should learn to wear an apron because this is like the fourth hoodie I've ruined over the last couple of months.

The sauce is quite zippy (thank you red pepper flakes!). Vodka sauce is usually thickened with cream, which of course there are vegan alternatives to, but none that I am particularly fond of, so I was excited that this recipe uses almonds to make the sauce creamy. I love using various nuts for this purpose, as it allows me to proclaim "You're gonna love my nuts" to whomever is within earshot, regardless of their eyerolls and groans. By this point you must think that all I do is sit around and watch infomercials and you're partially correct.

Unfortunately, I only had ground almonds and not slivered almonds, so the sauce thickened but wasn't as creamy as it was supposed to be. Next time. It was still positively incredible and went wonderfully with a side of caesar salad. Thanks again, Jennifer at It Ain't Meat, Babe!

9 comments:

J. said...

You are welcome! I'm glad to see the cookbook is already in use! And, as an aside, when I was visiting my mom last week she said, "I'm so glad that girl won the cookbook because her story about the veggie stock was amazing!" So there you go! My mom is a fan.

Mihl said...

I never knew what to expect when I read the penne vodka recipe. But your picture mkes it very clear: I have to try this recipe soon.

Bliss Doubt said...

I used to have fear of cooking red sauce because of all the resulting red blotches on the walls, the stove, the teakettle and anything else in the vicinity. A friend of mine said to use a bigger pot and that wouldn't happen. You know, he was right!

I wish I'd known that before the traumatic blueberry sauce incident. I couldn't go near the kitchen for weeks after that.

Penny said...

This was one of the first things I cooked from Veganomicon as well, and it is so freaking good! I cook it often now, sometimes with rice or just on top of vegies.

I usually use ground almonds, easier :D

Mary said...

J - Thanks again...I literally jumped around the house when I saw I won!! I've been wanting the book forever...it's nice to know my stupidity in the kitchen is finally paying off!

Mihl - It is delicious, I hope you like it!

Bliss - The problem is that I have this pot that I absolutely adore, and it's probably all in my head but sauces just taste BETTER when I use it. The issue is that it is not a very big pot, hence the splatters! I'm going to have to get over it though, as I really don't enjoy having to scrub down the cabinets!

Penny - very true...I always use ground almonds for things, one of the reasons that I didn't have any sliced ones on hand. The taste was absolutely perfect, they just didn't look as authentic...but really, who cares, unless you're serving it to someone famous or something :)

Isabel said...

When I make tomato sauce, I have the same problem...And then I had a moment of genius.

Enter the five dollar splatter guard. You know, the kind people use for bacon?

Yep.

Mary said...

That is a GREAT idea!! Why didn't I think of that!

The Voracious Vegan said...

I have never had penne vodka before but it looks DELICIOUS! Wow....need to make this soon!

Mary said...

I had had penne a la vodka at a restaurant long ago...I'd never tried making it before. Definitely impressed with the Veganomicon recipe!

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