Ah, Valentine’s Day. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Do you habitually ignore it? It seems no other holiday incites more oohs and eye-rolls quite like V-Day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. Whether you’re coupled, single, or somewhere in between, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to indulge in something fabulously delicious. And, if you can make it at home? Even better!
So, whether you’re spending time with your better half or having a girl’s night in, impress your V-Day guests with a posh little dinner that no one will suspect is a total breeze. I mean, is there anything more romantic than a bowl of pink pasta? I think not!
Spicy Sausage & Sweet Pea Rigatoni alla Vodka
1 lb rigatoni pasta
1 lb spicy Italian sausage
1 1/4 cups frozen sweet peas
4 oz cubed pancetta
1 cup diced shallots
6 garlic cloves (chopped)
28 oz plain Marinara sauce
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup vodka
1 1/2 tbsp light butter
1 tbsp flour (optional)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp coarse black peppercorn
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1. Cook rigatoni as directed. Drain into colander before returning to pot, adding 1/2 cup cold water to keep noodles moist. Set aside.
2. While pasta cooks, dice shallots and garlic. Next, with cleaned kitchen scissors cut both ends of sausage link, the squeeze out meat from casing. Set aside.
3. In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat before adding in shallots and garlic. Sauté until translucent, then pour in 3/4 cup vodka and allow all ingredients to cook for five minutes. Next, add sausage to pan and cook until no pink parts remain, rotating with spatula as needed.
4. When sausage is cooked, lower heat before stirring in pancetta, marinara sauce, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Let pan simmer for several minutes, then pour in heavy cream, remaining 1/4 cup vodka, and flour. When all ingredients are well incorporated, lastly stir in frozen peas before covering skillet and simmering for 15 – 20 minutes.
5. When ready to eat, combine rigatoni with sauce, then immediately plate and serve.
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Christine Fischer of Cooking with Cakes may not be a pro chef, but that doesn't mean she's a mere novice in the kitchen. The self-taught culinarian — who's all for healthy, accessible recipes — knows that succumbing to your five-day bacon craving does not make you weak. It just makes you human.