Bow Tie Pasta With Spicy Vodka Cream Sauce 2.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Dec 20, 2016

A puree of roasted red peppers, instead of the usual tomatoes, provides the base for this sauce, and the result is zesty and bright-tasting.

The recipe comes from a cookbook that features menus paired with classic movies. In case you're wondering, this dish was suggested as an accompaniment for the 1933 film "Female," because the book's co-authors said the movie "ends with a kick."

A spoonful of salmon roe or an ounce of jumbo-lump crabmeat would elevate this to special-night status. Serve with a side of sauteed or roasted broccoli rabe.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2 servings

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 ounces dried farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
  • One 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers in olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Leaves from 1 sprig basil
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the pasta. Cook according to the package directions (to al dente). Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, drain the roasted red peppers and place them in a food processor. Coarsely chop the garlic and add to the peppers. Puree until smooth, then pour the mixture into a medium saucepan. Stir in the tomato paste, crushed red pepper flakes and vodka. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring often. Taste the sauce: It should be a little sweet; the vodka acts as a flavor enhancer and doesn't really evaporate. If the sauce seems bitter, add the sugar, stirring until it has dissolved.

Reduce the heat to low; stir in the cream until well incorporated. Taste again; add salt as needed. Pour the sauce into the pasta and toss to coat evenly.

Stack and roll the basil leaves; cut them crosswise into thin ribbons. Divide the sauced pasta between individual bowls or plates; sprinkle with the basil and lots of pepper. Serve hot.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from “Turner Classic Movies’ Movie Night Menus: Dinner and Drink Recipes Inspired by the Films We Love,” by Tenaya and André Darlington (Running Press, 2016).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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