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"Probably everyone has had penne with vodka sauce," says Rach. This is basically the same, except it uses sweet vermouth instead of vodka. It's a bit sweeter and richer, and absolutely delicious. Rach is serving it for Mother's Day, along with a radicchio, endive and romaine salad dressed with aged balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper. John's Mama Knows Best Cocktail and her Limoncello Parfaits round out the lovely meal, which is also perfect for an impressive, but easy spring dinner party.
Heat a large pot of water to boil for pasta.
Heat a large deep skillet with EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat and melt butter into oil. Add shallots and garlic and swirl or stir 2 minutes. Add red pepper, salt and tomato paste, then add the sweet vermouth and reduce 3 minutes or so. Add crushed tomatoes. When they bubble and heat through, add basil and wilt into sauce, then reduce heat to low and stir in cream.
Chop the parsley together with the zest of a small orange to make a simple gremolata.
Salt the boiling water and cook pasta 1 minute less than directions, about 8 minutes. Reserve ½ cup water and drain. Add pasta back to hot pot with butter, half the sauce, the ½ cup water and cheese. Toss with tongs for 1 minute, then plate family-style or in shallow individual bowls. Top with remaining sauce and the gremolata.