Nick and Toni’s Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola

This recipe was pre-released before Foolproof hit the shelves.  Be warned that it is not the easy-breezy recipe that it appears to be from the photo, like sauce was just tossed together with pasta for an easy weeknight meal.  Oh no.  It’s also not a throw-together-and-bake-ahead-0f-time kind of operation, either.  I was glad I read through the recipe carefully before realizing that the sauce needs to simmer in the oven for an hour and a half before mixing it with the pasta.  The extra time and effort, though, were completely worthwhile.  The red pepper flakes and the addition of freshly ground black pepper to the sauce at two different times in the recipe gave it a nice kick, but nothing obnoxious.  It was plenty filling for a meatless meal, which should be expected with a cup of cream and a good dose of freshly ground parmesan.  I was not expecting oregano (instead of, say, basil), but it worked.  I’m not exactly sure what the vodka does for the sauce, but it also works.

A word about the tomatoes.  Purely by coincidence, I bought one can of brand-name tomatoes and one store-brand.  I’m a big believer in store-brand for almost everything, good grocer’s daughter that I am.  Well, the store-brand tomatoes had no extra bits of tomato skin, but the brand-name tomatoes had to be picked through for extra parts.  I will definitely continue to buy store-brand when I can.  Also, about those tomatoes.  The recipe instructs you to gently squeeze the tomatoes into the sauce.  Holy wow.  I had tomato juice on the counters, the walls, my outfit … everywhere.  Squeeze with care!

Finally, serving sizes.  Another wow.  The recipe says that this makes 4 servings.  In reality, it made maybe 4 family-size servings.  This recipe makes a huge batch of food.

Completed/Remaining: 372/314

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