Rocco DiSpirito's Penne alla Vodka

The dirty little secret about penne alla vodka is not the vodka but the hefty amount of heavy cream. Vodka is colorless, odorless and without much flavor—not really attributes of a superstar ingredient. It’s the combination of cream and tomato sauce that gives this dish its signature flavor. The traditional cream is swapped here for low-fat Greek yogurt.

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Ingredients

  • 8 oz whole wheat penne
  • 2 cups low-fat marinara sauce
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 7 oz 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions, about 9 minutes; drain. While the pasta is cooking, bring the marinara sauce and crushed red pepper to a simmer in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Cook the sauce, stirring it occasionally with a heat-resistant rubber spatula, until it is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove the sauté pan from the heat. Stir about ½ cup of the marinara sauce into the yogurt until smooth (this tempers it and prevents the yogurt from curdling). Then whisk the yogurt mixture back into the marinara sauce. In a large serving bowl, toss the sauce with the drained penne and the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the cheese on top, and serve. Nutrition Facts Fat: 4.8 g Calories: 320 Protein: 18 g Carbohydrates: 55 g Cholesterol: 11 mg Fiber: 6 g Sodium: 416 mg Healthy Tips* Whole-wheat pasta has a dense texture that makes it a little tougher than regular pasta. Some people like that chewiness; some don’t. If you’re in the latter category, overcook it a bit. Toward the end of the cooking time, keep testing it until it’s as tender as you like it. Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito is a popular television personality and the author of numerous hit cookbooks including his current New York Times bestseller Now Eat This! available wherever books are sold.