If you’re in the mood for a deliciously comforting pasta night, here it is! Penne alla Vodka is a unique fusion of tomato sauce and rich creaminess.
It’s sooo good. And don’t worry about the vodka, all of the alcohol cooks out, so this one is family friendly too.
So the next time that pasta craving hits, give this restaurant favorite a try in your kitchen!
Pasta nights are always a hit. From quick and simple dishes to more time consuming affairs, pasta dishes are always sure to please.
But Vodka sauce is pink. A simple mixture of the two? Not quite. This one requires a secret ingredient and a little science…
What is Vodka Sauce?
Though the exact origins are debated, Vodka Sauce is a pink pasta sauce that gained popularity in the 1980’s.
It features a unique combination of tomato and cream. Generally, these two ingredients are not used together, as the acidity from the tomatoes causes the oil in the cream to separate. That’s where the vodka come in…
The ethanol in the vodka acts as an emulsifier, allowing everything to combine together nicely. Yup, science.
It’s worth noting, the alcohol boils out of the sauce, so no need to worry about getting tipsy!
Why You’ll Love Penne alla Vodka
- Comfort food at its finest: Penne alla vodka is the epitome of comfort food. With its creamy tomato sauce hugging each tube of pasta, it’s like a warm, delicious hug in a bowl.
- Simple ingredients: A handful of basic ingredients come together to create this mouthwatering dish.
- Surprisingly easy to make: Don’t let the elegant name fool you. Making penne alla vodka at home is surprisingly easy. It’s the perfect dish to impress your friends and family without spending all day in the kitchen.
- Versatility: You can totally make this pasta your own. Want to add some protein? Toss in some grilled chicken or shrimp. Want to spice it up? Add more red pepper flakes. Or, add in some veggies for added nutrition and bulk.
- Perfect for any occasion: Whether it’s a regular weekday dinner, a special date night, or a celebratory meal, penne alla vodka fits the bill. It’s elegant enough for special occasions, but easy enough for everyday meals.
- Great for leftovers: As if all the above isn’t enough, penne alla vodka tastes even better the next day! The flavors meld and deepen, making your leftover lunch something to look forward to.
- Penne pasta – The traditional accompaniment to vodka sauce.
- Olive oil
- Tomato – Whole canned, as well as tomato paste.
- Flavor enhancers – Garlic and red chili flakes.
- Heavy cream
- Vodka – For that emulsifying magic.
- Parmesan cheese – In the sauce, and as garnish.
- Fresh basil – To garnish.
Penne alla Vodka Recipe
Start by heating the olive oil in a skillet or sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté till it becomes translucent. Next, add in garlic and red chili flakes and cook another minute or two.
Break the tomatoes up into small pieces with your hand in a bowl. Add them to the pan, along with tomato paste and vodka. Simmer till the tomatoes break down, about 25-30 minutes.
TIP: Do not use diced tomatoes thinking that they will break down faster and speed things up. They are chemically treated to hold their shape.
Stir in cream and shredded parmesan cheese. Cook 5-10 more minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, boil the penne in salted water according to the directions on the package to al dente. Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining.
Toss the pasta into the sauce. Mix well. Cook for a few minutes, till everything is well incorporated. If you prefer the dish a little runnier, add in a bit of pasta water.
Serve and garnish with freshly shredded parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Optional Add Ins
Protein: Penne alla Vodka is a great option for a simple meatless main. That being said, you can surely add in some grilled or sautéed chicken. Shrimp also goes great in there.
Veggies: We also love to bulk it up with some added veggies. Some of our top contenders are mushrooms, bell peppers, and asparagus. Roast or sauté the veggies before adding them to the final dish.
Like some kick on your plate? Try Gigi Hadid Pasta, a spicier version of vodka pasta!
What to Serve with Penne alla Vodka
As with any pasta, a side of good crusty bread is always welcome. Our No Knead Bread fits the bill perfectly.
And wine. That too. 😉
Leftovers and Storage
Penne alla Vodka is great as leftovers. Refrigerate in an airtight container for 4-5 days (only 2-3 if adding shrimp) in an airtight container.
Reheat on stovetop over medium heat, or in the microwave. If the dish has dried out a bit, you can add in a splash of olive oil or water while reheating.
We do not recommend freezing this dish, as the cream may separate from the sauce.
Give our easy yet delicious penne alla vodka a try. It’s the perfect marriage of tomato sauce and cream, thanks to that special ingredient.
Try it alone, or with some add ins. You’re in for a great pasta dinner either way!
Pin or bookmark this great recipe so you always know where to find it. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up great new recipes for you!
Penne alla Vodka, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
- 28oz whole canned tomatoes
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup vodka
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese + more for garnish
- salt, to taste
- 8oz penne pasta
- fresh basil, for garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet or sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté till they become translucent. Add in garlic and red chili flakes and cook another minute or two.
- Break the tomatoes up into small pieces with your hand in a bowl. Add them to the pan, along with tomato paste and vodka. Simmer till the tomatoes break down, about 25-30 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, boil the penne in salted water according to the directions on the package to al dente. Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining.
- Stir cream and shredded parmesan cheese into sauce. Cook 5-10 more minutes.
- Toss the pasta into the sauce. Mix well. Cook for a few minutes, till everything is well incorporated. If you prefer the dish a little runnier, add in a bit of pasta water.
- Serve and garnish with freshly shredded parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 457Total Fat 27gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 58mgSodium 564mgCarbohydrates 30gFiber 6gSugar 9gProtein 11g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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