Fresh Tomato Vodka Sauce Recipe

by vitus
Fresh Tomato Vodka Sauce

Ah, summer. The sun is warm, the days are long, and the gardens are overflowing with plump, juicy tomatoes. This year, ditch the store-bought sauce and channel those vibrant summer flavors into a homemade masterpiece: fresh tomato vodka sauce. Not only is this recipe bursting with fresh tomato goodness, but the addition of vodka adds a surprising depth of flavor you won’t want to miss.

What Is Fresh Tomato Vodka Sauce?

Fresh tomato vodka sauce is a type of pasta sauce that combines the bright flavors of fresh tomatoes with the richness of cream and a splash of vodka.

Ingredients:

  • Tomatoes (2 lbs): A mix of aroma, on-the-vine, grape, or cherry tomatoes works well. You can adjust the ratio depending on what’s available.
  • Olive Oil (¼ cup divided): Provides richness and base for sauteing.
  • Kosher Salt (1 tsp + ½ tsp): Enhances flavors throughout the cooking process.
  • Unsalted Butter (2 tbsp): Adds depth and creaminess to the sauce.
  • Garlic (8 cloves, minced): Essential for an aromatic base.
  • Yellow Onion (1 large, diced): Sautéed until softened for sweetness and texture.
  • Red Pepper Flakes (to taste): Adjust for your desired level of spice.
  • Black Pepper (½ tsp): Freshly ground for the best flavor.
  • Vodka (½ cup): Burns off alcohol, leaving behind a subtle sweetness and helps emulsify the sauce.
  • Heavy Cream (½ cup): Adds richness and a smooth texture.
  • Parmesan Cheese (½ cup, grated): Provides a salty and nutty finish.

Instructions:

  1. Prep The Tomatoes: Wash and dry the tomatoes. Quarter the larger tomatoes and leave the grape or cherry tomatoes whole.
  2. Sauté The Aromatics: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 5 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for another 30 seconds until fragrant.
  3. Cook The Tomatoes: Increase the heat to medium-high and add the prepared tomatoes. Season with ½ teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes. The tomatoes will soften and release their juices.
  4. Introduce The Vodka: Carefully pour in the vodka. Tilt the pan slightly away from you and let the vodka simmer for 2-3 minutes, allowing the alcohol to burn off. You’ll notice a reduction in the liquid.
  5. Simmer And Thicken: Once the vodka has reduced, add the remaining tomatoes (if using) and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, partially cover the pot, and simmer for 20-25 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it reduces.
  6. Creamy Finish: Stir in the heavy cream and simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with additional salt and black pepper to taste.
  7. Serve And Enjoy: Remove the pot from heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately over your favorite pasta.

Tips:

  • Ripen Tomatoes: Use ripe tomatoes for the best flavor. They will be softer to the touch and have a deeper red color.
  • Adjust Acidity: If your tomatoes are very tart, you can add a pinch of sugar to balance the flavor.
  • Basil Boost: For a fresh twist, add chopped fresh basil leaves at the end with the Parmesan cheese.
  • Control The Heat: Start with a pinch of red pepper flakes and adjust the amount to your preference.
  • Leftovers: Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop over low heat.

What To Serve With

Pasta:

  • Penne: Penne pasta is a classic choice for fresh tomato vodka sauce due to its shape, which holds the creamy sauce well.
  • Fettuccine: The wide, flat noodles of fettuccine are also a great match, allowing the fresh tomato vodka sauce to cling to each strand.
  • Rigatoni: The large, ridged tubes of rigatoni catch the sauce inside, making each bite flavorful.

Proteins:

  • Grilled Chicken: Serve grilled or sautéed chicken breast or thighs alongside the pasta and fresh tomato vodka sauce. The creamy vodka sauce complements the tender chicken well.
  • Shrimp: Sautéed or grilled shrimp add a delicious seafood twist to the dish. They pair wonderfully with the fresh tomato vodka sauce.
  • Italian Sausage: Slice or crumble-cooked Italian sausage (mild or spicy, as per preference) and mix it into the pasta and sauce for a heartier meal.

Vegetables:

  • Spinach: Fresh spinach wilted into the hot pasta and sauce adds vibrant color and a nutritional boost.
  • Broccoli: Steamed broccoli florets add texture and freshness to the dish.
  • Mushrooms: Sautéed mushrooms complement the flavors of the vodka sauce and add an earthy note.

Salads:

  • Caprese Salad: A refreshing Caprese salad with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze complements the Italian flavors of the fresh tomato vodka sauce.
  • Mixed Green Salad: Serve a simple mixed green salad with a light vinaigrette on the side for a refreshing contrast to the rich pasta dish.

Breads:

  • Garlic Bread: A classic accompaniment to pasta dishes, garlic bread, or a crusty Italian loaf is perfect for mopping up any leftover sauce.
  • Bruschetta: Toasted slices of baguette topped with fresh tomatoes, basil, and a drizzle of olive oil make a great appetizer or side dish.

Wine Pairing:

  • Red Wine: A light to medium-bodied red wine such as Chianti or Merlot complements the acidity of the tomatoes and the richness of the fresh tomato vodka sauce.
  • White Wine: For those who prefer white wine, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio can also be a good match, with its acidity cutting through the creaminess of the sauce.

Garnishes:

  • Fresh Basil: Chopped fresh basil adds a burst of freshness and enhances the flavors of the sauce.
  • Grated Parmesan: Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the pasta for an extra layer of richness and umami flavor.

Health Benefits

  • Rich In Lycopene: Tomatoes are a primary ingredient in vodka sauce and are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Lycopene has been linked to reducing the risk of certain cancers, including prostate cancer, and may help protect against heart disease.
  • Vitamins And Minerals: Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins C, K, and A, as well as potassium and folate. These nutrients contribute to overall health, supporting immune function, bone health, and maintaining healthy vision.
  • Healthy Fats: Many vodka sauce recipes include olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fats. These fats are heart-healthy and can help reduce inflammation and lower LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Moderate Calories: While vodka sauce contains cream, which adds calories and fat, using it in moderation can still fit into a balanced diet. Opting for lighter versions with less cream or using alternatives like Greek yogurt can reduce calorie content while maintaining flavor.
  • Potential Anticancer Properties: Studies suggest that the combination of tomatoes and olive oil may have synergistic effects against cancer due to their antioxidant properties and ability to reduce inflammation.
  • Improved Nutrient Absorption: Cooking tomatoes with a small amount of healthy fat (like olive oil) can enhance the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like lycopene and beta-carotene.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it! This fresh tomato vodka sauce is a fantastic way to elevate your pasta nights. It’s bursting with summery tomato flavor, has a delightful touch of sweetness from the vodka, and the creamy finish makes it truly irresistible.

More Sauce Recipes:

Fresh Tomato Vodka Sauce

Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )
Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time: Nutrition facts: 195 calories 17 grams fat

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes (2 lbs): A mix of aroma, on-the-vine, grape, or cherry tomatoes works well. You can adjust the ratio depending on what's available.
  • Olive Oil (¼ cup divided): Provides richness and base for sauteing.
  • Kosher Salt (1 tsp + ½ tsp): Enhances flavors throughout the cooking process.
  • Unsalted Butter (2 tbsp): Adds depth and creaminess to the sauce.
  • Garlic (8 cloves, minced): Essential for an aromatic base.
  • Yellow Onion (1 large, diced): Sautéed until softened for sweetness and texture.
  • Red Pepper Flakes (to taste): Adjust for your desired level of spice.
  • Black Pepper (½ tsp): Freshly ground for the best flavor.
  • Vodka (½ cup): Burns off alcohol, leaving behind a subtle sweetness and helps emulsify the sauce.
  • Heavy Cream (½ cup): Adds richness and a smooth texture.
  • Parmesan Cheese (½ cup, grated): Provides a salty and nutty finish.

Instructions

  1. Prep The Tomatoes: Wash and dry the tomatoes. Quarter the larger tomatoes and leave the grape or cherry tomatoes whole.
  2. Sauté The Aromatics: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 5 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for another 30 seconds until fragrant.
  3. Cook The Tomatoes: Increase the heat to medium-high and add the prepared tomatoes. Season with ½ teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes. The tomatoes will soften and release their juices.
  4. Introduce The Vodka: Carefully pour in the vodka. Tilt the pan slightly away from you and let the vodka simmer for 2-3 minutes, allowing the alcohol to burn off. You'll notice a reduction in the liquid.
  5. Simmer And Thicken: Once the vodka has reduced, add the remaining tomatoes (if using) and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, partially cover the pot, and simmer for 20-25 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it reduces.
  6. Creamy Finish: Stir in the heavy cream and simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with additional salt and black pepper to taste.
  7. Serve And Enjoy: Remove the pot from heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately over your favorite pasta.

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