Penne alla Vodka Recipe

Servings: 4 servings 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup) 4 garlic cloves, minced 3 Tbsp double-concentrated tomato paste 1/4 cup vodka 14 oz canned whole tomatoes 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or added to taste 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, plus more for the pasta water 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve 1 lb penne pasta, or rigatoni 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, or as needed Fresh parsley or basil leaves, torn or chopped to garnish


In a coated dutch oven or non-reactive pot over medium heat, add olive oil and onions and saute until softened, 5-6 minutes stirring occasionally. Add garlic and saute for another 30 seconds until fragrant.


Add tomato paste and Vodka and stir for 2 minutes until most of the vodka has evaporated out. Add tomatoes, salt, and red pepper flakes. 

Mash up the tomatoes with your spatula and simmer the sauce partially covered over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, start cooking the pasta so it’s ready at the same time as your sauce.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta. Season pasta water generously with salt (it should have enough salt to taste like ocean water). Once the water has boiled, add pasta and stir several times to keep the pasta from sticking. Cook until al dente according to pasta instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water.

Stir whipping cream into the sauce then add shredded cheese and return to a simmer. Add cooked pasta directly from the cooking water, adding a couple of Tbsp of pasta water at a time to make it saucier. Season with salt then serve garnished with more cheese if desired, parsley, or basil.

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