I was surprised, however, that it made a fine addition to the Pasta alla Vodka recipe that night; and no worries, this sauce won't give you a hangover. ;)
Pasta alla Vodka
2T olive oil
4 oz. thick, slab style bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1t crushed red pepper flakes**
1 - 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/4-1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/3 cup vodka
1 - 8 oz. pkg. mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped***
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 -1lb. pkg. rigatoni or other tube-shaped pasta, cooked al dente.
1. Add olive oil and bacon to a large sauce pan and warm over medium heat, Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook one minute, taking care not to brown garlic.
2. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper to saucepan. Cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to 2 cups. Add vodka and continue cooking for 2 more minutes.
3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in mascarpone cheese and bacon until well combined. Add fresh basil and remove from heat.
4. Toss sauce with pasta and serve with parmesan cheese.
* Bacon may be omitted for a vegetarian sauce.
** Additional crushed red pepper flakes may be added for a spicier sauce.
*** If fresh basil isn't available, omit, because dried basil will not taste the same in this dish.