Slowcooker Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta a la Vodka

Adding chicken and spinach to this terrific recipe is an important and easy Veteran Move
Adding chicken and spinach to this terrific recipe is an important and easy Veteran Move

For years I despaired of ever being able to replicate a good quality Vodka sauce. It’s a unique, smoky taste that I absolutely love but I just couldn’t get it right! So, when I found this easy to prepare slowcooker recipe at HalfbakedHarvest.com, I was really happy. This Pasta a la Vodka has everything needed to get the taste restaurant quality right. It turned out great the first time I tried it and then I added some key ingredients to significantly boost its nutritional punch!

In a traditional Italian home this yummy dish would be a warmup to some fantastic finishers. But, I’m all about easy to do. So, to make this a true main course, family dinner option, I add chicken and baby spinach. Turns out this is a great dish to cook if you had a nice roast chicken recently and have at least a quarter to a half chicken left. Adding baby spinach right at the end of the prep is also dead easy to do and adds depth of flavour. Of course it also offers all the nutritional benefits of spinach. In fact, adding leftover chicken and/or spinach to a main course salad or soup is an important money saving and nutritional Veteran Move. Try it with a favourite dish.

A further word on ingredients. It’s no secret I’m a bit of a food nerd… hey, what can I say? So, for my money another Veteran Move for any pasta sauce is to try to find good quality San Marzano whole tomatoes. I also look for pre-grated, real Parmigiano Reggiano in place of packed parmesan which is often a ‘cheese-product’. Adding diced sun dried tomatoes in oil all combine to maximize the final taste.

As well, in this recipe, I try to use a good quality imported Penne Rigate. It has the traditional tube shape of the Penne most of us are used to but is ridged along its sides and cut on an angle at each end to maximize sauce capture. Ridges and odd cuts captures sauce on the surface of the noodle. That’s why pasta is shaped in the first place. It’s worth searching for and the dry stuff stores for months.

But, don’t stress… I really am a nerd. Your regular brands will work brilliantly.

Key ingredients include whole tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, cream and of course vodka!
INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
1 sm- med-sweet onion diced
4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup vodka
1 – 28 ounce can whole tomatoes (San Marzano if available)
1/2 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes drained
kosher salt
Cracked Black pepper
1/2 cup light coffee cream
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggianno?)
1/2 – 1 lb shredded chicken
1 pound penne pasta, cooked
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (Optional)
5 ounces Baby Spinach
Pre chop onion and mince garlic
Pre chop onion and mince garlic
Measure out a cup of vodka to be ready (I used Stoly that day but any brand works well)
Measure out a cup of vodka to be ready (I used Stoly that day but any brand works well)
Pre-measure red pepper flakes and dried oregano and have it ready in a ramekin
Pre measure red pepper flakes and dried oregano and have it ready in a ramekin if you have one… a small bowl or even your measuring cup will also work
Another Veteran Move is to always pre-heat your slowcooker while you're collecting, chopping and measuring ingredients. It'll be ready when you are!
Spray slowcooker with olive oil (or drizzle a little into it and grease it with a paper towel)
Another Veteran Move is to always pre-heat your slowcooker while you’re collecting, chopping and measuring ingredients. It’ll be ready when you are!
Sauté onion for up to 5 minutes until transparent, then add garlic and stir to mix well until its fragrant
Drizzle olive oil into a frypan at medium high heat. Sauté onion for up to 5 minutes until transparent, then add garlic and stir to mix well until its fragrant… up to but usually not beyond a minute!
Add pre-measured spices!
Add pre-measured spices!
Add vodka and bring to a gentle boil
Add vodka and bring to a gentle boil for about 5 minutes. The alcohol will boil off.
Add a little salt and pepper to taste
Add whole tomatoes to preheated slowcooker
Add whole tomatoes to preheated slowcooker
Add sun-dried tomatoes
Add sun-dried tomatoes
Once the vodka has cooked down...
Once the vodka has cooked down…
Add the onion mixture to the tomatoes
…add the onion mixture to the tomatoes
Stir well, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours
Stir well, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours
Transfer tomato mixture to a blender
After its had a chance to cook, transfer tomato mixture to a blender and…
puree until smooth
… puree until smooth
Measure out cream and Parmesan
Measure out cream and Parmesan
Add cream and cheese to the slowcooker, stir well and cook on high for 10 minutes
Add cream and cheese to the slowcooker, stir well and cook on high for 10 minutes
This is a great dish to use up left over roast chicken
This is a great dish to use up left over roast chicken. Shred chicken…
add to the slowcooker, stir well and let it heat through, a further 10 minutes
… and add to the slowcooker. Stir well and let it heat through, a further 10 minutes
Stirring the pasta into the sauce is actually a good Veteran Move. It's called emulsifying and it adds terrifically to the final flavour
While the cream, cheese and chicken is heating, boil the pasta until its just about cooked through. Drain and add to the slowcooker. Stir well.
Stirring the pasta into the sauce is actually a good Veteran Move.
It’s called emulsifying and it adds terrifically to the final flavour.
Make it a standard move for any pasta dish.
Finally, add the spinach
Finally, add the spinach…
The spinach quickly wilts down and then everything is ready!
Stir in the spinach. It will quickly wilt down and then everything is ready!

Try this recipe. If you like it… even if you don’t… please comment and like the blog. Come back and see us some time!

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