Sunday, 31 March 2013

Meat Free March Recipe Swap: Amy's Penne alla Vodka

We're just a few hours away from 12am on the 1st of April 2013 - when meat is officially back on the menu again. In case you hadn't noticed, there's been a distinct lack of sausage in my life this month. There's been no bacon, no breast fillets, no little prawnies peeking out from beneath a bed of delicious paella. Have I missed meat? Good God yes. But, I'll let you in on a little secret - it hasn't been all bad. To tell you the truth, I've actually quite enjoyed it. I've loved discovering a ton of recipes, eating out in all sorts of weird and wonderful places and picking dishes from a menu that I'd never normally touch with a barge pole, only to discover that they're actually quite delicious. 

Best of all, I've loved meeting new people and discovering a  ton of amazing blogs via the Meat Free March recipe swap that Fay from Food Fables and I organised. Joined by a whole host of brilliant people, this swap has seen veggie and vegan recipes fly back and forth from different ends of the country. From coconut and lime vegan cheesecake to pumpkin and chickpea salad with tahini and flatbreads, to Dirty John Quinoa and cornbread with a blackbean and jalapeno sauce, I've loved reading the Meat Free March recipe swap blogs (and there are more to come - watch this space!). They've provided me with a lovely lot of inspiration to see me through my final meat free days.

I had the pleasure of sending Amy a couple of my favourite mid-week veggie recipes - Feta and Spinach Pie (which was actually first cooked for me by Hannah over at Girl Eats Vegan - hi Hannah!) and a flavoursome Thai Curry which is one of Ash's favourites and a firm staple in our household.

In return, I was tres excited when a package from Amy turned up which contained two of my most favourite things - vodka and mini eggs. Although I would have been quite happy to consume both of these gifts in one sitting without any accompanying foodstuffs, Amy had also popped in a recipe for Penne Alla Vodka - a go to dish in her house for when she "doesn't want to be in the kitchen for too long but wants  something carbey,  cheesy and delicious!"

So, here's Amy's Penne alla Vodka, a recipe she's created herself having taken inspiration from both Nigella and a Smitten Kitchen:

Penne alla Vodka (serves two)
200g penne (we didn't have any in so made some fresh tagliatelle!)
salt and pepper
can of chopped tomatoes
squeeze of tomato paste
one white onion (diced)
one or two cloves of garlic (crushed/grated)
100ml double cream
2 big glugs of vodka
a few fresh leaves of basil to taste
lots of parmesan (or veggie alternative)
a handful of frozen peas (optional)

Fry the chopped onions in a little oil.

Once the onion has softened, add the garlic and fry for another two minutes.

Pour in the first glug of vodka, followed by the can of tomatoes, squeeze of tomato paste and a generous helping of cracked black pepper. For a smoother sauce, you can add a pinch of sugar too.

Leave to bubble whilst you cook the penne in a pan of salted water (or, in our case, get that tagliatelle rolled and then popped in a pan for a couple of minutes!)

Just before the pasta is done, add a handful of frozen peas to the sauce.

Leave to bubble for a minute, then add the cream to the sauce, take off the heat and stir through.

Drain the pasta and return to the pan with the other glug of vodka and a big knob of butter.

When the vodka has burnt off a bit of the alcohol, stir in the sauce.

Serve with basil torn up and a heap of parmesan. Best consumed with a crispy green salad and a big glass of vino.

You might have noticed a distinct lack of mini eggs in the recipe. Apparently the Smitten Kitchen serves brownies as a dessert to this dish, which is why Amy included them, but I'm ashamed to say I'd scoffed them all before the onions had even got anywhere near a chopping board.  Whooops!

Although not a recipe for someone on a diet, this was a mid-week dish that was completely delicious and felt extremely decadent. To be honest, I was a bit wary that the vodka was going to be slightly over powering and I found myself adding little tipples rather than big glugs, but, if anything, I would get back to my Essex girl roots and not hold back next time. Amy suggested that adding prawns into the mix at the same time as the peas goes down a real treat too - and it's definitely an addition I'll be trying soon!

A big thanks to Amy for her lovely recipe and to all the other Meat Free March recipe swappers for helping a sister out. Fay and I are forming a panel (I'm the Louis Walsh to her Simon Cowell) to decide which swapper will receive a prize of a month's supply of Abel and Cole boxes and a meal at the wonderful (and veggie friendly) Handmade Burger Co - and all I can say is that if the recipes and blog posts are of a standard similar to the ones I've seen so far, it's going to be a hard choice to make!


  1. So glad you enjoyed it - but yes, not one for those who are calorie counting!

    I absolutely loved the spinach and feta pie, as did the friends I always foist my cooking upon! Also, such a small small world - Hannah's boyfriend used to live with Paul - I didn't know that she was recipe swapping too! :)

    Thanks again to you and Fay for organising this - would be amazing to do another one soon, am happy to help with any organising! Xxx

  2. Mmmmm the sauce looks like such a delicious consistency once you added the cream! It just makes me want to grab a spoon!

    Thank you for organising the food swap! It was great to get a new recipe! Definitely count me in if you do any more!