Simple Dinners 12 / Roast Tomato Penne alla Vodka

Roasted Tomato Penne alla Vodka
My current obsession is slow roasted tomatoes. For the last few weeks, after spending Saturday morning at the farmers market, my housemate and I take our beautiful ripe tomatoes and give them a scattering of Moroccan spices and a good glug of olive oil. Then turn the oven down low and roast them slowly for a couple of hours, while we nap. Just kidding, I’m usually working! You know they’re ready when the whole house starts to smell amazing. We love eating them with mozzarella, fresh basil from the garden and crusty bread. The concept gave me an idea for a new twist on a classic pasta dish.

roasted tomato penne alla vodka

Is there an easier weeknight meal than pasta? I don’t think so. It’s comforting, simple, endlessly adaptable, and also one of the most affordable dinners to cook. Definitely my go to on busy days… and sometimes on lazy days too. Penne alla vodka is a classic Italian-American dish that has long intrigued me but I had never tried it before. I thought it would be great with my delicious roasted tomatoes as the base, rather than tomatoes from a can.

roasted tomato penne alla vodka

I love this dish because it’s a pure celebration of the tomato. You can definitely cook the tomatoes in advance. I love having a tray of them in the fridge, smashed on toast for a snack. Once the tomatoes are roasted, the dish comes together really quickly. I kept it quite light on the cream and instead put a generous dollop of buffalo mozzarella on top to serve.

Definitely a great dish to have in the repertoire for a nice simple dinner. The vodka wasn’t a very strong taste, but added a layer of complexity. I liked the hint of spice from the chilli. Some recipes also included some bacon or sausage, which I think would be great too!

roasted tomato penne alla vodka

Roast Tomato Penne alla Vodka
Serves 2

Roast Tomatoes

  • 500g ripe tomatoes (I used a mix of normal and cherry tomatoes)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Seasonings: I used salt, pepper, ground turmeric, cumin, coriander and sumac
Tomato Vodka Sauce
  • 20g butter
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced (use more or less, depending on your tastes)
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 4-5 large basil leaves, finely sliced, plus extra for serving
  • 250g dried penne
  • Buffalo mozzarella, to serve
Slice the tomatoes in half and place onto a baking tray in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, and scatter with the brown sugar and seasonings of your choice. Roast at 120°C (250°F) for 2-3 hours or until tomatoes are soft and blistered. You can do this in advance and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Cook your pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. In the meantime, in another fry pan heat the butter until melted and add the onion, garlic and chilli. Cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes and mash with a fork or potato masher until they release their juices and fall apart. Add the vodka and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the cream and basil and season with salt and pepper. Drain the cooked pasta and add to the sauce mixture, tossing to coat completely. Serve with buffalo mozzarella, extra basil leaves and freshly cracked pepper.

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