My kids still talk about the time I made vodka sauce for pasta. Having been on the phone with a friend while preparing dinner that night, I measured the vodka hastily and poured it into the tomato sauce, then added the heavy cream. Somehow, I doubled the amount of vodka so that when the sauce was poured over penne, the dish tasted like what I imagine rubbing alcohol must taste like.
Of course, through the years, the story has changed with each retelling so that to hear it now, you would think I poured a bottle of vodka over the kids’ pasta!
I haven’t ever made vodka sauce again since I found a great neighborhood deli that carries it. I like to add a little basil for a fresher flavor, but you also could use another herb, or add in a little garlic.
When I make this dish for a family dinner, I toss a giant green salad for the daughter who doesn’t eat carbs. For picky eaters, dip the chicken into a little olive oil, coat with bread crumbs, and bake in a separate pan. It will be ready in less time than it takes for the stuffed chicken, and you can serve it with plain penne and a plain steamed vegetable.
Chicken with Vodka Sauce & Penne
- 1¼ lb boneless skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 /4 tsp black pepper
- ¼ lb mozzarella cheese, sliced very thin
- 1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 1 pint vodka sauce
- ¼ cup fresh bread crumbs
- 2 Tbsp butter, melted
- 12 oz penne
- Whole fresh basil leaves
- Sliced fresh tomatoes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place a slice of mozzarella cheese on each piece of chicken. Roll up and stick toothpick through each to secure. Repeat with remaining chicken. Place in 9 by 13-inch baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Stir chopped basil into vodka sauce. Pour over chicken. Combine bread crumbs with melted butter. Sprinkle over chicken. Cover with foil. Bake for about 25 minutes, remove foil, and bake for another 15 minutes or until chicken is done.
Meanwhile, cook the penne in a large pot of boiling water. Drain.
Arrange basil leaves over chicken. Serve chicken with penne and sliced tomatoes, if desired.