Penne Alla Vodka is the perfect blend of tomato, heavy cream, garlic, and onions simmered together to make a unique, pink sauce.
It’s Wednesday!! Yay! Halfway through the week. Just two more days until the weekend. I’m already making my list of recipes for next week. I tend to get a little over ambitious and try to cook too many things. Some sort of pasta dish is always on this list. You can’t go wrong with pasta. There are so many different varieties, and it’s so simple. Pasta is one of my go-to meals.
Pasta has always been one of my favorite foods, and it just happens to be one of the easiest to make. My favorite pasta as a kid was basic spaghetti noodles with jarred marinara. I even liked noodles with melted butter and garlic salt. In fact, I still eat that now on occasion, but my absolute FAVORITE pasta dish is Penne Alla Vodka. I can’t recall the first time I had it, but it is AWESOME!
Penne Alla Vodka is warm and creamy with bits of garlic and onion. It has a tomato flavor without being too tomatoey and is good with a little crushed red pepper to add a bit of heat. It’s pretty much perfect!
You can imagine my delight when one year for Christmas John bought me a cookbook that contained a recipe for Penne Alla Vodka. It was the very first recipe I tried. And it failed. It was horrible. 🙁 My first attempt at Alla Vodka sauce was disgusting. It tasted like I had dumped an entire bottle of vodka right in the pan and didn’t cook it down. Sadly, I gave up. I didn’t try to make it again for almost seven years. Giving up like that is quite ridiculous if you ask me, but that’s what happened.
I finally decided to try again and made Penne Alla Vodka a few weeks ago. This time, it was a complete success. Here’s how I did it.
Cook the Noodles:
I used gluten free penne noodles, but any short noodles will work. Heat a large stock pan with water and salt. Bring to a boil and add the pasta. The box I used had 12 ounces. I used the entire box which will serve 4 to 6 people depending on the serving size. Cook the noodles until they are al dente. Drain the water and reserve about 1/2 a cup in case the sauce is too thick.
Chop 3 to 4 cloves of garlic and 1 medium onion. I use a KitchenAid Hand Blender with a chopper attachment to chop the garlic and onions. It helps with clean up and reducing the teary eyes onions sometimes cause.
Cook the Sauce:
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil together in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, onions, and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes. Next, add 1 cup of vodka. If you are working with an open flame, turn off the flame before pouring the vodka.
It’s important to let the alcohol cook out of the vodka before adding other ingredients. Otherwise, your sauce will taste boozy. I let mine cook for about 15 minutes and then add the tomato sauce, salt, and pepper. After the tomato sauce has cooked for an additional 5 minutes, it’s time to add the heavy cream. Be sure your sauce isn’t too hot or the cream could break or curdle. Slowly bring the sauce to a simmer and remove from the heat.
Add to Noodles:
Add the noodles to the sauce and toss to coat. If the sauce is too thick, use some of the reserved pasta water to thin it out.
Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
Used for this recipe:
- 12 - 16 ounces of penne noodles cooked
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic chopped
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup of vodka
- 1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Grated parmesan for serving
Cook noodles according to package directions.
Melt butter and olive oil together in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook until onions are translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Add the vodka and allow the alcohol to cook out, about 15 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
Add heavy cream and stir to combine. Don't allow the sauce to become too hot or cream could break or curdle.
Bring sauce to a simmer again and remove from heat.
Combine sauce with noodles and toss to coat.
Top with grated parmesan and serve immediately.