Monday, March 4, 2013

Penne with Vodka Sauce and Peas

Thanks to Simon's dad, we have a jar of Coconut Manna that we've been meaning to try out for some time. Coconut Manna is just a form of coconut flesh, similar to coconut butter.  According to the jar's label, it's good to use in rice, oatmeal, smoothies, and sauces in place of milk, cream, yogurt, or butter.

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Enter vodka sauce, everyone's favorite creamy and tomato-y pasta sauce.  Heavy cream is usually responsible for vodka sauce's pink (rather than red) color, so in this case, Coconut Manna stands in for Cow Manna. 

Pasta and Peas, Smothered in Sauce

Here's the recipe for vodka sauce.  All you need to do is make the sauce and serve over penne and peas (or any other veggies). 

Vodka Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Manna
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 - 28 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 7 ounces canned coconut milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste

First, submerge the tightly sealed jar of Coconut Manna in very hot tap water to melt the Manna.  It should soften up enough to stir and measure after 5-10 minutes. 

Add the Coconut Manna, oil, and onion to a medium saucepan, and sauté over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions and manna begin to brown.  Then lower the heat to low, add the vodka, and stir.  Cook, stirring frequently, for eight minutes.  Next, bring the heat back up to medium, mix in the diced tomatoes, and simmer, uncovered, for 20 more minutes.  Add the coconut milk and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Finally, transfer most of the sauce to a food processor and blend until smooth.  Recombine the processed sauce with the chunky sauce, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Yields sauce for about 1 pound of pasta.


This sauce is rich and creamy--and it had better be, with all of that coconut in it!  The coconut flavor is subtle but definitely present, and the sauce has a mild flavor overall.  (I might add a bit of crushed red pepper flakes to my leftovers in order to spice it up a little.)  The pairing of the sauce and peas on top of the pasta is a good one, as the peas add a little color and a little texture.  
Coconut Manna must truly be the food of the gods: a jar of Coconut Manna apparently costs about $10.  Although it was fun to try, it probably won't be a regular purchase of mine in the future. 
 Ease of Preparation:        
This sauce takes a bit of time to make, but it's pretty simple to prepare. 
Non-vegan friendliness:             
Unfortunately, given that I've only had vodka sauce once or twice in my life, I'm not sure whether this actually tastes like traditional vodka sauce.  Given it's noticeable coconut flavor, I'd say it would be better served as a creamy pasta sauce rather than a traditional vodka sauce.

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