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Drunken Penne and Crisp Garden Medley Salad

Donna steps into her garden to use some fresh ingredients in this week's entree

There must be a specific gene that Italians inherit. It is blamed for macaroni abuse. As a child I remember eating lots of pasta. We ate it a few nights a week and again on Sunday. My mom would say, “It’s easy and you can make it with anything.”

Well, that’s true. As an adult, I still love pasta and I do make it with everything. Today I will share with you my daughters’ favorite way, Drunken Penne with a Crisp Garden Medley Salad.

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can easily grow herbs and lettuce in your home garden. Some hardy plants to try are basil, parsley, chives, dill, rosemary, green and red leaf lettuce, chicory and arugula. For your crisp garden medley salad snip a variety of lettuce greens, wash, pat dry and put them in a bowl. Add some chopped almonds and dried cranberries and set aside.

For this meal you will need 30 ounces or 2 cans of diced tomatoes, a six ounce can of tomato paste, three chopped garlic cloves, olive oil, fresh basil about 5-6 leaves, a few sprigs of parsley, Italian Seasoning Blend by Mrs. Dash, pepper, salt, ginger, one cup of vodka, two heaping tablespoons of sour cream and one pound of penne pasta.

In a large skillet set to medium heat, sauté your garlic and tomato paste in some olive oil. Fill the paste can with water, swish it around and pour into the skillet. Whisk well. Add the diced tomatoes, basil, ½ a tablespoon of Italian seasonings, ½ a teaspoon ginger, 1 tablespoon sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Let it cook for 30 minutes or more stirring occasionally.

An Immersion Hand Blender is another gadget your kitchen should not be without. It’s perfect for the small blending job.

Submerge the stick blender in the tomatoes and work it around until the sauce is nice and smooth. Add one cup of vodka and let simmer for 20 minutes. This allows the alcohol to burn off.

Fill your pasta pot with water and set on high. When it boils, sprinkle some salt, add the pasta and cook to your liking.

Use your whisk and blend in the sour cream to the sauce and heat through and through.

Coat the salad with your favorite dressing and toss.

Garnish your drunken penne with fresh parsley and grated cheese and remember this, no matter what day of the week it is, you can never, ever have too much pasta. 

Until next time, mangiare bene!

Lucy Rieger June 24, 2011 at 01:16 AM
Donna- thank you for the vodka sauce recipe. When I read your article I knew I would make it. Tonight was my chance- I had about 20 high school kids celebrating the beginning of summer who gobbled it down with compliments. It was delicious! Happy summer! Thank goodness for the garden- especially for basil!

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