Penne alla Vodka made with a creamy, pink vodka tomato sauce is one of our favorite recipes to make during family gatherings.
Next month will mark our 10th year of blogging here at Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen and in that time I’ve shared over 1,200 recipes. Wow, how time flies when you’re having fun!
I even wrote a cookbook and though most of those recipes aren’t here on the blog, some of them I decided to share over the years. Unfortunately, this recipe for Penne alla Vodka was one that never made it.
Honestly, I never really noticed it wasn’t here until I searched for “vodka sauce” and it didn’t come up. We don’t eat a lot of pasta; especially dishes with a simple sauce.
Mainly because at most family get togethers Penne alla Vodka or Penne with Pink Vodka Sauce is usually served buffet style. It’s inexpensive to make and can feed an army! Besides, 95% of the time, my niece makes it now instead of me..bonus!
This vodka sauce recipe makes 5 cups; which is usually too much to serve with one pound of pasta.
However, you’ll want the extra if you have any leftovers. The sauce really penetrates the pasta after it’s been refrigerated overnight and the extra will be needed once reheated.
How do you make Penne alla Vodka?
For this recipe you’ll need penne pasta, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, fresh basil, EVOO, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, crushed red pepper, vodka and heavy whipping cream.
Start by heating oil in a medium pot over medium high heat; then add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Next, add the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta until it’s al dente according to package directions; then drain the water and place back into the pot.
Pour as much sauce as you like over the pasta and toss to coat. My family doesn’t like pasta to “saucy”; rather more on the dry side so 3 cups was enough for us.
Are there any shortcuts?
Let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t have time to make a pot of sauce from scratch. And that’s ok! Jarred sauce has really come a long way on flavor over the years.
All you have to do is start with your favorite jarred sauce, add the vodka, heavy cream and crushed red pepper. Cook until heated; then pour over your pasta and mix well.
Can you use other pasta?
Yes. The best pasta to use is a tubular shaped pasta like penne or rigatoni, but spirals or spaghetti will work too. I prefer tubular because all of that delicious sauce gets caught inside so you get a taste of the creaminess in every bite!
Check out this post Pasta & Sauce: How to Pair Together for more ideas.
Do you have to use heavy cream?
Technically, you do not. However, you will need to use something to turn it into that pinkish color. As a substitution you can use light whipping cream, half & half or any percentage of milk. The less fat milk product you add, the less creamy the sauce will be, but you will get that same pink color.
I’ve never tried using nut milks so I’m not sure if that will even work well. This dish is known for being super creamy so by using other products, it will not be the same recipe with the same flavor.
What can I add to the pasta?
Most of the time, pasta and sauce just isn’t enough for my family and they need a little protein. Feel free to toss in some grilled chicken or shrimp before serving.
Not only is Penne alla Vodka super tasty, it’s simple to make, inexpensive and perfect for those busy weeknights. ~Enjoy!
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Penne alla Vodka
For the Pasta
- Prepare the pasta until it's al dente according to package directions; then drain and place back into the pot.
- Pour as much sauce as you like over the pasta and toss to coat.
For the Vodka Sauce
- Start by heating oil in a medium pot over medium high heat; then add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes.
- Next, add the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Makes 5 cups.
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