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THE KITCHN: This pasta is a carb-lover's dream

By Nealey Dozier, TheKitchn.com on

I have been a carb lover since birth. I have a very early memory of dining at my small hometown's fanciest Italian restaurant. I shunned the kid's menu and proudly announced to the server that I wanted the penne with vodka sauce. All eyes turned to me (I'm sure at that moment my parents were wondering if this was a sign of what was to come, regarding the vodka, that is.) I had no idea what it was, but there was cream in the sauce, and that was enough to sway me.

To my uninitiated palate, it was the best meal of my short life -- a melange of flavors I had never before experienced. That restaurant, because of that dish, became my most requested special occasion spot, much to the dismay of my father's wallet, I'm sure. It closed down by the time I reached middle school, and I have yearned for that recipe ever since.

My memory may have gotten the best of me, and the tastes and colors of that childhood pasta have blurred and morphed together with other food experiences. Just how similar this penne alla vodka recipe is, I will never know. But every time I take a bite of this delicious version, I think to myself, "Man, that little girl sure did have good taste."

Penne alla Vodka

Serves 4-6.

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped (optional)

1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3-4 garlic cloves, pressed

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