Penne with Smoked Salmon and Vodka - Great the Night Before a Big Race

We found this recipe years ago, not sure of the source because I know I changed it, but it’s a runner's dream. Quality carbs and protein, low(er) fat, quick and easy, too. Craig’s running the Lewis & Clark 1/2 marathon tomorrow morning and has really taken to this. Pretty amazing considering he used to really really disliked salmon (we aren't allowed to say "hate" in our house). Rich flavor, but light at the same time. The quality of the salmon you use is critical. We get it at a local purveyor Smoke House Market, where they smoke the salmon in house. It really makes the difference.

Penne with Smoked Salmon and Vodka
Serves 2-3

(that's a leftover parmesan rind I threw into the sauce)

1/2 lb. whole wheat penne – I use about 6 ounces for two servings
4 oz. good quality smoked salmon, broken into bite-sized pieces
extra virgin olive oil
2 medium clove of garlic, minced
1 large shallot, minced
2 or 3 plum tomatoes, chopped, or 1 16 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, or 8oz. can tomato sauce
red pepper flakes
Italian seasonings
2 teaspoons capers
1/4 cup good quality vodka
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 -3 tablespoons parsley, minced

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente.

Meanwhile in a medium to large pan, sauté the minced garlic and shallots in the EVOO until just soft. Add the tomatoes (I add both the tomatoes and juice – we like it more saucy), spices, and capers and gently simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the vodka and let the alcohol burn off while the sauce simmers another 2-3 minutes. Add the half-and-half and gently simmer another minute or so. Add the smoked salmon and heat through.

Drain the pasta, and add to the salmon/vodka/tomato mixture. Heat through until sauce covers the penne. Serve immediately in pasta bowls with a generous sprinkling of parsley and parmesan cheese.

Quick, easy, and elegant.

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