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'Nduja Pasta alla Vodka
This is a smoky, sexy, spicy update on a favorite dish: pasta with vodka cream sauce.
2 tbsp. EVOO
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
1 cup vodka
1 can (28 oz.) crushed Italian tomatoes or 2 cans (14 oz. each) Italian cherry tomatoes
A handful of basil leaves, torn
4 to 5 ounces ‘nduja (spreadable spicy salami)
1 lb. short-cut pasta, such as penne
¾ cup heavy cream
1 cup grated pecorino, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Grana Padano, plus more for serving
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
In a large deep skillet, heat the EVOO, two turns of the pan, over medium. Add the onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the vodka and let it cook until reduced by about a third, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer the sauce until slightly reduced, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir the basil into the sauce.
In a medium bowl, whisk the ’nduja with 1/2 cup of boiling water until smooth. Stir the mixture into the sauce.
Salt the boiling water, add the pasta, and cook 1 minute less than the package directions.
Stir the cream into the sauce, then reduce the heat to low.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Remove the sauce from the heat and toss with the pasta and cheese, adding pasta cooking water as needed to keep the sauce velvety.
In a small bowl, mix the oregano and parsley. Divide the pasta among four shallow bowls. Top with the herbs. Serve more cheese alongside.