Pasta w Easy “Vodka” Sauce & Kale Salad

I’m a big fan of vodka sauce but not so much of the calories and how heavy it is. So I’m going to share my super secret amazing shortcut cheat for vodka sauce. It doesn’t have vodka, so I guess it’s more of an imposter but the flavor is the same and it’s much less rich, letting you indulge a little more. 


The secret is…. light cream cheese (and a little Greek yogurt)! Rather than slaving over a homemade sauce with vodka, crushed tomatoes, heavy cream, etc., I whip this up in about 5 minutes once the pasta is cooked. It’s simple and delicious and healthier than the original, who can say no to that?! With a kale salad on the side, you can’t go wrong. 

RECIPE

Ingredients: 

2 cups uncooked penne

2 tbs salt

1 cup marinara sauce

1 tbs Greek yogurt 

1 tbs light cream cheese or neufchatel

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt to taste

Kale salad:

2 cups chopped kale

5 strawberries

Sprinkle of feta cheese 

1/2 avocado

1 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 tbs evoo (extra virgin olive oil)

3/4 tbs Greek yogurt 

1 tsp garlic powder 

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Directions:

1. Fill pot with water and add salt. Bring to a boil and add pasta. 

2. Cook pasta until it is al dente (about 10-15 min). Rather than relying on time I just occasionally eat a noodle and once it’s chewy with a slight bite at the center, it is cooked. 

3. Drain pasta. DO NOT RINSE THE PASTA as this removes the starch that will help the sauce bind to the noodle and also thicken the sauce a bit. 

4. Return pasta to pot. Add marinara, cream cheese, Greek yogurt, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste. Heat until cheese is entirely melted and the sauce has the consistency and appearance of vodka sauce. That’s literally it, all it takes for a delicious “vodka” sauce! 

For the salad (ideally you should prepare this prior to the pasta, or while it’s cooking):

1. Chop kale and rinse thoroughly. Drain water. 

2. Whisk together evoo, vinegar, Greek  yogurt, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Pour over kale and mix in. I like to do this with my hands despite the fact it gets a little messy, as it does a very thorough job and also massages the green a bit, softening it. 

3. Quarter strawberries. Mix them into kale with the feta. Let this sit and marinate a bit while you prepare the pasta. 

4. Just prior to eating, slice avocado to add over top. Grind fresh pepper over top to taste. 

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