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Time: 35 minutes
On Valentine's Day, nothing is as big a downer as floppy penne. But when made al dente, this luscious pasta dish practically screams romance; be sure to savor every last, insanely rich bite.
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
1 quart marinara sauce
½ cup vodka
½ cup cream
½ cup Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
8 basil leaves, julienned (optional)
1 pound penne pasta
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the chili flakes and cook until just sizzling, about 2 minutes.
Carefully pour in the marinara and the vodka. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium low. Cook, stirring consistently, for 10-15 minutes, until reduced.
Stir in the cream, Parmesan and half the basil (if using), and cook until the cheese has melted and the whole sauce is luscious and pink.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander, or transfer to the sauce using a slotted spoon.
Toss with the sauce until combined. Cook for another minute. Then garnish with the remaining basil, and few shreds of Parmesan, and serve alongside the extra block of cheese for grating.
NOTE: The sauce can be made in advance. If it is too thick, add 1/4 cup of pasta water to thin it slightly when you toss it with the pasta.
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