Vodka Valentino Sauce

Vodka Valentino Sauce

This sauce works well with any pasta, but is especially delicious with homemade gnocchi.

1 large red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and torn into ½-inch strips (about 16 to 20)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 large garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional – omit or add more, as desired)
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, pureed
¼ cup vodka
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

To garnish:
¼ to ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place red pepper on a sheet pan and roast in oven for about 40 to 50 minutes, until skin is charred and mostly black. Remove and cool in a paper bag until just able to handle; then, use your hands to remove the skin and seeds. Tear into ½-inch strips and set aside.

Begin the sauce as the pepper is roasting. In a medium sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat and sauté the garlic for about 3-5 minutes, stirring often and being careful not to brown the garlic. Add crushed red peppers and sauté for another minute.

Add the pureed tomatoes and vodka and cook for about 15 minutes over low-medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream. Cover the pot but leave a little room to allow steam to escape. When the sauce coats the back of a spoon, it’s ready to serve.

When serving with gnocchi, prepare the sauce first, then transfer to a larger pot to toss with the gnocchi. . Add the gnocchi and red peppers to the sauce and toss to evenly coat. Transfer gnocchi to a large platter or individual serving bowls and garnish with toasted pine nuts, freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves or strips.

To store: Refrigerate for up to five days.