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Penne alla Vodka with Prosciutto and Peas

Penne alla Vodka with Prosciutto and Peas


  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 pound prosciutto di Parma ends, cut into 1/4-inch dice

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 1 small rib celery from the heart with leafy tops, finely chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 cup vodka, such as Tito’s organic

  • 1 can D.O.P. Italian tomatoes (28-32 ounces)

  • 1 cup passata, tomato puree or tomato sauce

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • A handful of tarragon leaves, chopped or a few leaves of basil, torn

  • 1 cup fresh shelled peas or defrosted organic frozen peas

  • Freshly grated Grana Padano cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and render for 2 minutes. Add the onion, celery, garlic, salt and pepper; partially cover and cook until very tender, 10-12 minutes. Add the vodka and reduce by half. Add the tomatoes and passata and simmer for 20 minutes to cook the tomatoes down. Add the cream and tarragon or basil and reduce heat to low.

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water, then drop the pasta and cook to al dente. Add the peas to the sauce to heat through. Add half a cup of the starchy cooking water to the sauce just before draining. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine; adjust the salt and pepper. Serve the penne in shallow bowls topped with cheese.