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Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Vodka, and Baby Peas Recipe


Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Want to spice things up this Valentine’s weekend? This spirited pasta dish mixes in layers of flavor including the addition of peppery vodka for a restaurant-quality dish you can make at home.

This recipe by chef and caterer-to-the stars, Serena Bass, which appeared in Real Food, is also a wonderfully adaptable recipe. She occasionally ups the pepper flakes and adds a couple cups of chopped sweet red peppers with the onions. “I’ve used all marinara sauce and no cream, or subbed in oregano and thyme for the rosemary. You can make it your own,” she noted. She suggests you invest in high-quality vodka, as cheaper stuff can taste harsh.

Using a stainless-steel saucepan with high sides may be helpful as the sausage may not break up well in a nonstick pan and keep sliding around. This sauce freezes particularly well, so you can make more than needed and have a great treat for a midweek dinner that is ready in minutes, too.

Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Vodka, and Baby Peas

Makes 8 to 10 servings

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 c. yellow onion, cut in 12-inch dice
3 tbsp. chopped garlic
12 tsp. hot pepper flakes, or more to taste
2 tbsp. minced lemon zest, removed with a peeler
3 lb. spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
1 c. Absolut Peppar vodka
2 tbsp. minced rosemary
2 c. heavy cream
2 c. marinara sauce
14 c. per person frozen baby green peas (see note for freezing)
    orecchiette or medium shell pasta

1. Melt butter, add onion, and cook over medium heat 8 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, pepper flakes, and lemon zest, and gently sauté 1 minute. Crumble in sausage, breaking up against side of pan and chopping with a heavy wooden spoon until the sausage is broken up and there's hardly any pink left. This can take 10 minutes.

2. Add vodka and cook 3 minutes. Add rosemary, cream, and marinara. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer. Cover, adjust heat so sauce just simmers, and cook 45 minutes.

3. If not serving entire recipe immediately, remove excess to a sealed container and freeze.

4. Just before serving, add the uncooked, defrosted peas, and stir; they will cook quickly in the heat of the sauce and give a wonderful pop of sweetness. Ideally, serve with orecchiette or medium shells to capture the creamy sauce.

Cook’s Note: For freezing—Peas are added just before serving so if you plan to freeze some of this dish, do not add peas and wait until serving. Calculate only the 14 cup peas per person for what you plan to use right away.

Nutrition info (per serving): Calories 650 (450 from fat); Fat 50g (sat. 23g); Chol 129mg; Sodium 1575mg; Carb 20g; Fiber 3g; Protein 25g

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Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

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