I know it’s traditional to serve vodka sauce with penne, but all I had in the house was farfalle, so I went with that. But the sauce is really the star here, and always will be– spicy, creamy, rich but with bright tomato flavor, it’s a perfect comfort food. Plus, it’s made with pantry staples (the original recipe called for shallots and fresh tomatoes, but I think the modified one is just as tasty) and is quick and easy enough for a weeknight dinner!
I made this for a picky eater cousin of mine once, and she declared that she felt like she was eating at a fancy restaurant– high praise from her. Recreate your own restaurant experience with the following recipe:
Pasta With Vodka Sauce (makes 2 generous servings)
8 oz. pasta, cooked per instructions
1 tbs. olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 clove crushed garlic
3 tbs. tomato paste
8 oz. canned, diced tomatoes
2 oz. vodka
large pinch red pepper flakes (to taste)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
2. Combine vodka and pepper flakes in a small bowl and set aside for at least 10 minutes. You’ll see the vodka change color as it extracts the pepper’s aromatic compounds.
3. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet and sauté onions with a generous pinch of salt until translucent.
4. Add garlic and continue to cook until golden and fragrant, about one minute.
5. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, then deglaze pan with vodka/pepper mixture. Stir until vodka mostly evaporates.
6. Add diced tomatoes and continue to cook until heated through and bubbling.
7. Add cream and continue to cook until heated through.
8. Stir in parmesan cheese, and serve immediately over hot, cooked pasta.
- I know that most vodka sauces tend to be smooth, but I really recommend using the diced onion/diced tomato version here– it makes for a more interesting dish, and the juicy tomato keeps the sauce from being too creamy and cloying.
- While it’s tempting to think that fresh parmesan cheese will automatically be better than the dry stuff in the shaker, the shaker stuff has always worked fine for me. This is supposed to be an easy weeknight dish, after all.
- This dish is easily doubled to feed more people– just use the full 14-oz. can of tomatoes and one large onion. If you have leftovers, they reheat very well.