Monday, October 18, 2010

Vodka: What Can't It Do?

Mascarpone Vodka Sauce with Turkey Meatballs
Maybe it's something floating around the autumn air, but lately Angie and I have been on the same food wave-length when musing over our dinner plans at the office. The other day I mentioned, "Do you know what I've been in the mood for? Spaghetti and meatballs!" Angie exclaimed, "Me too!" And we began comparing notes for potential pasta and ground-meat permutations. Mascarpone cheese is always a good idea and I have recently been gifted a fantastic bottle of vodka- this variation on vodka sauce seemed like a natural fit. Enjoy a heart bowl on a chilly October night. Keep in mind, the delicious herb-laden marinara base to the sauce makes more than enough for leftovers. Whip it up, save all about about 3 cups and freeze the rest for a future lasagna recipe.


- 2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
- 1 c. carrots, finely diced
- 4 stalks celery, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 c. Italian parsley, chopped, divided
- 1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
- 1 c. good quality vodka
- 4 oz. mascarpone cheese
- 1 tsp. sugar
- salt and pepper
- 3 lengths Italian turkey or chicken sausage, removed from casings
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 2 slices whole wheat bread, torn into small pieces
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp. herbs d' Provence
- 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
- milk
- 1 c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Heat 1/4 c. olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for about 3-4 minutes until they become soft and fragrant. Add carrots and celery, cook until vegetable begin to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add fresh thyme, 1/4 c. Italian parsley, and fresh basil. Stir to combine. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until sauce begins to thicken.

At this point, you have a delicious and complete marinara sauce. Enjoy with pasta, chicken, eggplant, or anything or use as the base for about a thousand other sauces.

To make the vodka sauce, take 3 cups of the Delicious Herby Marinara Sauce in a Dutch oven and add 1 c. good quality vodka. Simmer over medium-low for about 20 minutes for sauce to thicken. Add 1/4 c. mascarpone and 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheeses. Stir warm sauce until cheeses are melted and well combined. Season with additional salt and pepper and pour over cooked pasta to serve.

Preheat oven to 350˚F and spray a 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray, set aside. In a large bowl combine ground turkey, chicken sausage, torn bread pieces, herbs d' Provence, poultry seasoning, 1/4 c. chopped Italian parsley, 1 egg, a splash of milk, and 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese. Mix with hands until ingredients are thoroughly combines. Form meat mixture into 2" balls and arrange in prepared baking dish. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, until meatballs begin to brown. Serve over prepared pasta and vodka sauce. It's good stuff!

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