Recipe Review

This Cheesy, Pasta-Filled Take on the Crunchwrap Will Have You Skipping the Drive-Thru for Tonight’s Dinner

published Apr 25, 2022
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Credit: Kelli Foster

According to his Instagram bio, former Cooking Channel host and Food Network personality Josh Elkin prides himself on creating “recipes you’ve never seen before.” And his latest offering — the Penne Alla Vodka Crunchwrap — definitely delivers on that promise.

As a fan of the Taco Bell classic, I can’t say that it ever crossed my mind to recreate it at home, much less incorporate more carbs by way of Italian flavors. Josh’s demo, however, looks too rich and decadent not to try at least once.

To start, brown a half-pound of hot Italian sausage, then set it to the side. Combine 1/4 cup of melted butter with a grated clove of garlic and a single tablespoon of chopped parsley before brushing both sides of two 1/2-inch slices of circular bread. Toast the bread until golden brown; this will serve as the internal crunchy layer of your Crunchwrap.

Before making the titular penne, combine both a half cup of ricotta cheese a half cup of grated Parmesan cheese with one tablespoon of chopped parsley, and set to the side. For this recipe, Josh made his vodka sauce from scratch while boiling the penne in heavily salted water. For this, you’ll sauté one diced onion and three roughly chopped cloves of garlic until translucent. Then, add 1/4 cup of tomato paste and one cup of vodka, and once fully liquid, add 1/4 cup of heavy cream.

Cook the penne pasta until al dente — about 9 to 11 minutes — and mix it into the sauce before building your Crunchwraps. For this part, you’ll scoop half of your cooked Italian sausage onto the center of a large, warmed tortilla and top it with a handful of shredded mozzarella. Spread your ricotta and Parmesan mixture onto one side of the toasted garlic bread, and place it cheese-side down onto the growing pile. Your penne alla vodka goes on next, topped with another handful of shredded cheese and a small tortilla.

Wrap everything up in the larger tortilla, then pan-toast both sides until golden brown. Cut your pasta-filled Crunchwrap in half and enjoy. The recipe makes two wraps, so if you’re cooking for one, remember to cut all recipe quantities in half — or just make one for tomorrow’s lunch.