Katy Tolitano's Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce

Recipe pays homage to her late mother-in-law.

Prep time: 20 Mins
Cook time: 30 Mins
¼ pound prosciutto (diced into small pieces)
1 cup half and half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 (28 ounces) can of crushed tomatoes
1 fluid ounce vodka
1 (7 ounces) jar of roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (Optional)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese1 pound rigatoni pasta
¼ cup green peas
Step 1: Drain the roasted red peppers, reserving about one Tbs of the liquid. Dice peppers Into small pieces. Step 2: Combine prosciutto, cream, crushed tomatoes, vodka, roasted peppers with reserved liquid, parsley, garlic powder, sugar, salt and black pepper, and crushed red pepper in a saucepan. Cover. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the sauce comes to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Step 3: Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and transfer to a large serving bowl. Step 4: Stir cheese into the sauce. Stir sauce into rigatoni and top with peas.

Special Instructions or additional information: If you prefer not to use the heavy whipping cream, you can use 2 cups half and half instead. You can make the sauce ahead of time and freeze it in batches. When you're ready to use, simply reheat on low and toss with cooked pasta.

I married into an Italian family so I figured I'd better step up my pasta game. Vodka sauce is my husband's favorite so I knew I had to perfect a sauce that was easy, delicious and something I'd want to pass on to our kids. I tested many different iterations, some with pancetta, and some with Italian sausage but this for me hits all the right notes. A rich comforting food with just the right amount of tang! Though I never got to meet my mother-in-law before she passed, making comforting Italian dishes for my family is a bit of an homage to her and makes me feel like she's with us in spirit.