Thursday, January 13, 2011

The search for lactose-free vodka cream sauce

I love pasta in vodka cream sauce. The problem is that I can’t digest cream anymore (even with lactase pills and lactase drops, it’s been hard to dose). So I started looking at alternative ways to get a similar sauce, but without using dairy. I tried two different recipes, but unfortunately, neither one of them has me thrilled.

The first was a vegan recipe I found on The Kind Life. It calls for silken tofu as a thickener instead of the cream. While silken tofu is what I used, the result was still a little too grainy for my taste. It certainly wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I’ll give you the recipe and some pictures here for reference.

1 lb of gnocchi

1Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp parsley

½ tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional)
4 minced garlic cloves

a 28-oz can of whole tomatoes

½ cup silken tofu

2 Tbsp of vodka

Put the gnocchi in a pot of water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, and then drain and set aside.

Sauté the olive oil, parsley, red pepper flakes, and garlic cloves in a medium saucepan. Add the can of whole tomatoes, and bring to a boil.

Purée this in a blender along with the silken tofu. Transfer back to the saucepan after blended.
Heat gently, and add the vodka.
Heat for one minute, and then toss with the gnocchi.

Then, very recently, I decided to modify Rachael Ray’s recipe. This was my go-to recipe before, and with the cream, it’s really delicious. I decided to try it with soy creamer instead. It really didn’t work out, though; I think the soy creamer didn’t take well to the heat. I used a full cup, but still ended up with a loose tomato sauce, not a creamy sauce. It was good, but again, not what I’m looking for. Here’s the recipe, for those of you who can eat cream. (The only cans of crushed tomato I saw here were 28 oz, not 32, so I guess that’s one thing that isn’t bigger in Texas.)

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
1 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 32-oz can crushed tomatoes
coarse salt and pepper
1 lb pasta, such as penne rigate
½ cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently sauté shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.

Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Pass pasta with crusty bread.

Do you have any favorite vodka cream sauce recipes?

1 comment:

Amélie said...

If you are in Canada, I now recommend making Rachael Ray's recipe using Natrel's lactose-free cream! It's not vegan or anything, but it is lactose-free and that's what I really wanted. I haven't found the equivalent for the States yet, though.