Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola – pasta recipe with Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce from the famous East Hampton’s restaurant: Nick and Toni’s, featured by Ina Garten on Food Network – Barefoot Contessa; with my little twist of using fresh tomatoes from my own garden.
I remember the first time I saw the episode of the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network, when Ina Garten met with a chef from Nick and Toni’s. I was literally drooling while they were preparing this awesome Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola. I knew that I had to make it one day. The idea of slow roasting tomatoes in the oven was just brilliant. Recently I saw this episode again and the light bulb lit up in my head – I need to make it with my own tomatoes from my very own garden.
Oh yeah, I’ve been trying my hand at gardening. I’ve been “producing produce!” I am so proud of my gardens. I only have herbs, tomatoes and peppers; but it is such an amazing feeling to grow something from the scratch. I’ve had so many tomatoes that I needed to come up with many creative ways to use them. Hence, this delicious pasta came to my mind. I used my fresh Roma Tomatoes, instead of canned tomatoes, and the result was simply outstanding.
Here is a step by step guide:
First: Sauté onions with garlic, red chili pepper flakes and oregano. Cook until soft and translucent. Add vodka and cook for about 7 minutes.
Then wash and cut up tomatoes into cubes. (Aren’t they beautiful?)
Add tomatoes to the onions/garlic mixture on your pan. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Transfer the pan into the oven, heat up to 375F and roast for an hour and a half. Here’s how it looks after you take it out of the oven.
Place the tomatoes/onions mix in the blender and process until smooth.
Return the sauce to your pan, add heavy cream, mix and cook for about 5 minutes.
In the meantime, shred some good quality Parmegiano Reggiano. It is really important to have a good quality, freshly shredded cheese. The taste and texture will be totally different if you use processed store bought pre-shredded cheese with questionable quality.
Add the cheese to the sauce and stir until combined. Check for seasoning and adjust to your liking.
Cook pasta according to instructions, but one minute less. Add almost cooked pasta to your sauce and mix it well. You want to finish cooking pasta in the sauce.
And here it is, smooth, velvety, absolutely delicious Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola with homegrown Roma Tomateos.
Sprinkle some more cheese, black pepper and parsley on top and enjoy. You should serve it immediately for best taste and texture. However I had leftovers and we heated it up the next day for lunch, and it was still super delicious.
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon of chili flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 cup of vodka
- 12-15 Roma tomatoes (depending on size), diced
- ½ cup of heavy cream
- ½ cup of shredded Parmeggano Reggiano
- ¾ pound of penne pasta
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Parsley or fresh oregano to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 375F
- In a oven proof skillet heat up olive oil, add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes until translucent
- Add garlic and chili flakes and oregano and cook for another minute
- Add vodka and let it cook until reduced by half, about 5-7 minutes
- In the meantime cut up the tomatoes
- Add to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes
- Cover the pan with the fitted lid and transfer to the oven
- Roast for 1 hour and a half
- Cook pasta according to instructions but 1 minute less (you want to finish cooking it in the sauce)
- Remove the tomatoes from the oven and puree in a blender (be careful to cover the blender tightly with kitchen towels and do not fill up more than ⅓rd at the time)
- Once all the sauce is blended, place it in the pan and add cream
- Mix together and let cook for about 3 minutes
- Add grated cheese and season with salt and pepper
- Add pasta to the sauce, mix well and let it cook for another minute
- Sprinkle with fresh herbs, more cheese and pepper and serve immediately.
If you like this post, you may also like these pasta dishes:
Or these recipes using fresh tomatoes: