There’s something kind of new happening in our quiet little prairie province of Saskatchewan. It’s been happening everywhere else in the world by now … but here in Saskatchewan we are a bit behind. Like, don’t even get me started on the lack of food trucks in Saskatoon and the recent introduction of a potential food truck pilot program. Anyway, I’m not here to go on and on about food trucks.
Let’s talk about micro-distilleries. Yup, small-time craft distilled beverages.
I grabbed this bottle of vodka from Last Mountain Distillery. Owners and operators Colin and Meredith Schmidt are located in Lumsden, SK and they bring their boozy goodness to their stand at the Saskatoon Farmers Market. They currently make vodka and whiskey. I have their vodka.
This vodka is totally smooth and awesome. I am not a huge vodka fan generally but this is pretty great.
I decided to make it into this recipe for Penne Alla Vodka.
The basics of the recipe – other than vodka – really is just tomatoes and garlic. Lots and lots of garlic. Traditionally heavy cream is used but I used Savory Cashew Cream to give it the creaminess it needed. There’s a hint of spiciness too, which I used dried chili flakes to achieve.
In this picture you’ll see the last of my garden tomatoes from last fall. (That’s how long ago this recipe should have been posted!) These were the tomatoes I picked while they were still green by candlelight one evening with a threat of frost looming in the forecast. I was surprised they ripened to such a nice deep red and the flavor, of course, was still amazing. Bye bye garden tomatoes. I sure miss summer right now.
I suppose the reason it’s taken me, oh I don’t know, six or more months to post this recipe is mostly because I take myself too seriously. I have made this recipe a few times and I struggle with finding a nice way to photograph the end result. These kind of skillet pasta dishes really don’t look all that special or in some cases they can look downright unappetizing. But they really are very tasty.
At the end of it all, I decided I have eaten way too much pasta lately to make this a
fourth fifth time just to get the recipe posted for you to enjoy. Turns out that this last time the photos turned out pretty decent, except I didn’t have fresh basil so I omitted it and garnished with fresh parsley just for color. You could omit the basil too but it really does add a nice brightness to the dish so I’d encourage you to use it if you can find it.
I want to look totally pro-star and legit on this blog and sometimes I lose sight of the important part. Sharing the recipe!
- 1 lb gluten-free penne pasta, cooked*
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic
- 4 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- ½ - 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- ¼ cup vodka
- ½ cup Savory Cashew Cream**
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn (I don't always do this, but you should because it's so good)
- In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add garlic and saute for about 2 minutes. Add fresh tomatoes. Saute another minute longer.
- Add crushed tomatoes, dried chili flakes and vodka. Stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to minimum and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add savory cashew cream, stir and heat through.
- Toss with cooked gluten-free penne and serve immediately with fresh basil.
On the topic of micro-distillers I want to mention another great gem located right here in Saskatoon. Lucky Bastard Distillers offers a variety of liqueurs made with local Saskatchewan fruit like seabuckthorn berries, Saskatoon berries, and black currants. They’re currently aging some of their own whiskey. They’ve got gin and vodka too. A Twitter friend shared a little secret … they give away the carmine jewel cherries used in their liqueur making once they’re done with them. Just think of the great things a person could do with boozy carmine jewel cherries! Stay tuned for that.