penne alla vecchia bettola

Since starting to cook, I’ve been a bit turned off from making pasta because it just seems too basic and too easy. I’ve mentioned that I like complicated recipes that feel like they require a lot from me. And pasta is usually boil water–>add sauce–>eat. NOT MY KINDA COOKIN!

I also am not a huge fan of penne, but something about this Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola from Barefoot Contessa’s Foolproof cookbook intrigued me, so I went for it (not having read the entire recipe!!!)

I started cooking this around 8:00 and my sister and I ate this at 10 pm. All I’m sayin. No, that’s not all I’m saying. What I’m saying is this: this sauce has an amazing flavor but it takes approximately forever to make. It used a method I had never heard of– you saute garlic and onions, add vodka, crush in tomatoes in the pan, then cook it in a pot in the oven for an hour and a half! Then you puree the sauce, add cream, oregano, spices, etc and simmer it a little more, then cook the sauce with the pasta.


My dad was hovering around the kitchen wanting to eat it but fell asleep before he could. I made a damn batch of muffins while waiting for this sauce to cook.

I would prrrrrobably say this sauce is worth the time though! It’s not like it takes an enormous amount of effort, just patience. It really does have an incredible depth of flavor, and I could taste every ingredient I put in it. Despite the eighteen times I must have thought “there has to be an easier way than this…” it really did turn out delicious.

So my lesson here is…plan ahead. Read the recipe. Then carry on.