Spicy Rigatoni Vodka (4-5 servings)

1 pound of dried Half-Rigatoni pasta, cooked ‘al dente’ (reserve a cup of pasta’s cooking water)
2 cups tomato sauce (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon Calabrese chili paste or pinch of chili flakes
1 ounce of vodka
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
3 tablespoons of butter, cubed and chilled
1/4 cup of fresh whole basil leaves
1 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 ounces of extra virgin olive oil to finish
A pinch of salt and pepper

  1. Cook pasta in boiling salted water for about 8-9 minutes until al dente.
  2. In a medium pot, heat tomato sauce, basil leaves, chili, vodka, heavy cream and butter
    on medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes. If the sauce is too thin add the reserved pasta water to thicken (the water contains the starch released from the pasta while cooking).
  3. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce to finish cooking, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  4. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese and finish with some very good extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Basic Tomato Sauce

1 ounce of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 each medium onion, peeled, sliced
3 each garlic clove, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of chili paste or pinch of chili flakes
2 28-ounces cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes in purée

  1. In a bowl, squeeze the top end of the tomato and discard. Crush tomatoes by hand.
  2. Heat oil in a saucepan on medium-low heat and sweat the onions, garlic, salt, pepper and the chili. When onions are translucent, add the crushed tomatoes, the juices, and the purée. Simmer on low for about 30-45 minutes. Check for seasoning.
  3. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth or put the tomatoes in a colander with medium holes to purée the mixture.