Please, don't be deterred by the addition of prunes. My idea for this sauce came from another Italian recipe for a pork loin stuffed with prunes that I really like. The sweetness of the prunes enhances and contrasts against the savory flavors to create a depth of flavor, and it was my inspiration for this vodka sauce.
Since the tomatoes, onions, and garlic are roasted, the sauce is practically already cooked once everything gets into the skillet. This isn't necessarily a quick sauce, but you could put it together in about an hour if the water for the pasta is being heated as you prep the sauce.
Besides the vodka, which probably acts just like any alcohol added to pasta sauce minus the flavor (I'm guessing), vodka sauce has cream in it. So you're thinking this might be unhealthy? Not here. Although I do use heavy whipping cream, which I feel contributes and enhances to the smoothness of the sauce (yeah, it was also what I had), you could use half and half, general cream, or even whole. I wouldn't suggest 1%, no matter how fat you're feeling, because it might make the sauce too watery. There's also only 1/4 cup of cream in here, probably coming out to about less than a tablespoon per serving (this at least has about 5 servings).
The flavor came out about how I was expecting, savory with sweet undertones. I don't generally prefer sweet sauces, but I like the subtle taste of the prunes in here. Another "secret" addition was two anchovy fillets, and again, don't be put off as you can't even taste them, it's just one of those special additions that greatly contributes to the flavor. All in all, I'm pretty happy with the outcome!
Recipe after the jump
Print this recipe
roasted tomato vodka sauce with prunes
Recipe by Christina Provo
1 pound Roma tomatoes, sliced into eighths
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 small onions, sliced
10 garlic cloves, smashed and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/3 cup prunes, coarsely chopped
2 flat fillet Anchovies
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 pound spaghetti
- Preheat oven to 450° degrees. In a large pot, heat water with 1 tablespoon coarse salt for spaghetti to a boil.
- On a rimmed baking sheet, place tomatoes, 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, onions, garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon basil, and white pepper. Stir to coat. Place on middle rack in oven and roast for 30 minutes, stirring halfway.
- In a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil on medium heat. Stir in prunes and anchovies, using the back of stirring utensil to break the anchovies up. Saute for about 1 minute.
- When tomato mixture has finished roasting, spoon into bowl of food processor along with the prune-anchovy mixture, leaving excess oil in skillet. Process with 3/4 cup water until smooth, no longer than 30 seconds. In same skillet, saute tomato paste, letting it caramelize a bit, for a minute; pour in pureed tomato mixture and stir to incorporate with tomato paste. Add vodka, stir, and reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer.
- Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package instructions until al dente. Halfway through cooking time, take 3/4 cup pasta water and add to tomato sauce; stir, then stir in heavy whipping cream. Check for seasonings.
- Once pasta has finished cooking, drain portion out into bowls. Stir parsley into pasta sauce and remove from heat. Serve atop spaghetti.