Roasted Tomato Penne alla Vodka
In the summer, during tomato season, I do a very quick roast on my tomatoes to highlight their natural flavors, but when they’re out of season, roasting gives them personality. Suggested side: A salad of escarole or romaine dressed with lemon juice, EVOO, salt and pepper.
- 3 pounds plum tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons EVOO, plus more for drizzling
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup vodka
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese
- A generous handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
- 1 pound penne rigate or other short-cut pasta
- 1 cup diced fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Set wire racks over rimmed baking sheets.
Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and arrange them cut side up on the racks. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with the thyme and salt and pepper. Roast until the tomatoes are slumped but still moist in the center, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cool.
In a Dutch oven or deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO (2 turns of the pan) over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until very soft but not caramelized, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vodka and cook until reduced by half. Add the chicken stock and roasted tomatoes and heat through. Stir in the mascarpone, then puree into a fairly smooth, creamy sauce using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender. Return the sauce to the pot, add the basil, and stir until wilted.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Drain and add to the sauce, tossing to coat.
Transfer the pasta to a 9 by 13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Top with the mozzarella and Parm.
Make-ahead: Cool, cover with parchment paper and then foil, and refrigerate.
Night of: Return the pasta to room temp while you preheat the oven.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Bake the casserole, covered, until heated through, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until browned and bubbling on top, 15 to 20 minutes.