Lucy’s Take On: Rocco DiSpirito’s “No Cream, No Cry Penne alla Vodka”
By Lucy Cohen Blatter
Full disclosure: I made this recipe once before. But I really wanted to share it with you guys. Isn’t that a testament to how good it is?
Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito’s “No Cream, No Cry Penne alla Vodka” is about a million times better for you than the version you’ll order at a restaurant. Normally the dish is made with tomato sauce, heavy cream, vodka and white pasta. Rocco’s dish starts with whole wheat pasta, and the creaminess comes from greek yogurt rather than cream.
Which brings me to the topic of greek yogurt. I am a huge fan! Greek yogurt with honey and granola is one of my all-time favorite breakfasts. It’s full of calcium and protein and it’s so rich and creamy that plain old yogurt pales in comparison. It’s also a great substitute for sour cream and heavy cream in recipes. It cuts the fat down significantly and is so tasty.
Now, back to the recipe at hand. Rocco mentions that whole wheat pasta tends to need a bit more cooking time. I totally agree. And he also says you can make your own marinara sauce or use the jarred kind. For a sunday night dinner, homemade sauce might be nice. On the weekdays? I’m always going to go for the jar.
Warm the pasta sauce and red pepper flakes until the sauce thickens:
Take about a half a cup of the sauce and mix it with the yogurt. This prevents the yogurt from curdling:
Then mix the yogurt mixture with the sauce and heat through:
Basil adds a great fresh taste:
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese makes everything better. It’s even better when it’s pre-grated:
Rocco’s “No Cream, No Cry Penne alla Vodka”*
- 8 oz whole wheat penne
- 2 cups Rocco’s How Low Can You Go Low-Fat Marinara Sauce (recipe not shown) or storebought low-fat marinara sauce
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1 (7 oz) container 2% Greek yogurt
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 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.
Fat: 4.8 g
Protein: 18 g
Carbohydrates: 55 g
Cholesterol: 11 mg
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 416 mg
*From DiSpirito’s cookbook, NOW EAT THIS!