Spicy Pesto Pasta Alla Vodka

Ingredients
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup vodka
3/4 cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup heavy cream or canned coconut milk
1 pound short cut pasta
3 tablespoons salted butter
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/4 cup fresh basil roughly chopped
Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. When the oil shimmers, add the shallot, garlic, and oregano. Cook until the shallots begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes, cook 4-5 minutes, until thickened. Stir in the vodka, cook another 2 minutes. Stir in the pesto and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Just before draining, remove 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water. Drain.
  3. To the vodka sauce, add the pasta, 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, and the butter, tossing until the butter has melted. Add the parmesan and basil. If needed, thin the sauce with additional pasta cooking water.
  4. Divide the pasta among plates and top with basil and cheese. Enjoy!
    Notes
    To Replace the Vodka: use an equal amount of chicken or vegetable broth.
    To Make Ahead: prepare the alla vodka sauce through step 1. The sauce can be made 4 days ahead of time and chilled in the fridge. To serve, warm on the stove, follow the directions through step 2.
    To Freeze: the alla vodka sauce can be made, then frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw, then use as directed.

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