This recipe is an adaptation of Ina Garten’s Nick and Toni’s Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola on foodnetwork.com. Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola is the perfect blend of all ingredients. It produces a true restaurant quality meal.
Ingredients for Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola
I used the following basic ingredients for the incredible sauce: Olive oil, onion, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, vodka, canned plum tomatoes, salt, pepper. I finished the sauce with heavy cream and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Making the Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola
I sautéed the onions and garlic in olive oil for several minutes. Then, I added the red pepper flakes and oregano. Next, I added the vodka, and continued cooking until the liquid was reduced by half.
In the meantime, I drained the tomatoes in a colander, and removed as many of the seeds as possible. Then I crushed the tomatoes with my hands into the pot containing the onion mixture, and poured in the juice that had been drained.
I mixed all of this together, and added a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Then, I covered the Dutch oven, and popped the tomato sauce into 375° F oven for 1 ½ hours.
I was concerned that the oven temperature was too high, but after the allotted time, the mixture was perfectly cooked. It was a bit burned looking around the edges, and seemed pretty thick. This, however, was not a problem at all.
After the mixture cooled for around 15 minutes, I puréed it in batches in the blender until the sauce was smooth, and poured the puréed sauce into another pan.
After I reheated the sauce, I added the cream and Parmesan cheese, and stirred until the cream was well incorporated and the cheese was melted. When the pasta was done, I tossed it in the sauce. I served the Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola with freshly baked Crusty French bread, a chilled Chardonnay, and some grated Parmesan cheese on top. Yum!
The Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola is one of the first recipes that I featured in Pudge Factor – February 15, 2012. Since then, I’ve made it a number of times with consistently amazing results. I decided to update the original post with updated photos and text. However, the original recipe remains unchanged.
Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola (adapted from Ina Garten's Nick and Toni's Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola on foodnetwork.com)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 cup vodka
- 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 12 ounces penne pasta, cooked al dente according to package instructions
- ½ cup Grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish
- Italian parsley for garnish if desired
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Heat the olive oil in an oven proof Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano; cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.
- Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes in a colander, and remove as many of the seeds as possible. Crush the tomatoes into the Dutch oven with your hands. Add the drained liquid from the tomatoes. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1 ½ hours. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Place the tomato mixture in a blender and purée in batches until the sauce is a smooth consistency. Return to the pan.
- Reheat the sauce. Add the cream to make the sauce a creamy consistency. Correct the seasonings, and simmer for 10 minutes. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with additional grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of chopped Italian parsley on each plate. Yield: 4 servings