Penne with Pancetta and Asparagus

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With asparagus, pancetta, and vodka you can make an average evening meal an elegant feast.


  • 1 8oz. pkg Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Brown Rice Penne
  • 1 lrg. bunch asparagus, 2 cups
  • 6 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 1 small leek, white and green parts, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 28oz.can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, for sprinkling


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne until just tender, 8 minutes. Drain and set aside. Coat asparagus* lightly with olive oil and grill it in a grill pan on the stove or outside on a grill. Once asparagus is grilled on all sides and crisp-tender (about 8 minutes), remove it to a cutting board until cool enough to handle. Cut the asparagus into 1-inch long pieces and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the pancetta until it’s brown and crispy, about 3-4 minutes.



Transfer pancetta to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Set aside. Pour out all but 1 Tbsp. of the pancetta drippings from the skillet and add the leeks to the pan. Sauté the leeks until soft (about 3 minutes) and add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Carefully pour the vodka into the pan and boil until reduced by half. Stir in tomatoes, half & half, Worcestershire sauce and red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the sauce is thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Add basil, pancetta and asparagus to the sauce and cook over low heat for a few minutes or until heated through. Scoop pasta onto individual plates and top with the sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

*NOTE: Asparagus can be blanched or roasted in lieu of grilling.



6-8 servings Print this Recipe

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