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Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla vodka- sounds so risqué . I have often wondered how important it is to actually use vodka in this dish- won't it be as good with broth or another liquid so I can save the vodka for my martini? However, vodka does really complete this dish so when we are indulging in this decadent pasta meal, I do it right (and go ahead and serve it to your child as the alcohol burns off during cooking). Lately I have been cooking the pasta in the sauce, which allows it to infuse the flavors and makes it a one pot meal. This could also be made in the instant pot.


  • 1 T olive oil

  • 1 shallot, minced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1-2 T red pepper flakes

  • 28 oz can whole Marzano tomatoes

  • 1 cup fresh chopped tomatoes (or an additional 13 oz can of crushed tomatoes)

  • 12 basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons

  • Salt and pepper, to taste (approx. 2 t salt and ½ t pepper)

  • ½ cup vodka

  • 1 cup heavy cream* (see note for vegan modification)

  • 1 pound penne pasta

  • Water or broth

  • 1 cup parmesan cheese


  1. Sauté garlic and shallot in olive oil, add in red pepper flakes

  2. Add in tomatoes, bring to a boil and then simmer

  3. Stir in basil and vodka and salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for 20 min and then puree with stick blender

  4. At this time, you can continue to allow to simmer, or move to next step: the longer it simmers, the better. Add water to prevent it from drying out

  5. Pour in cream, bring to boil, and add at least 1 cup of water

  6. Stir in pasta and allow to boil gently for about 10-15 minutes, until cooked al dente. Ensure there is enough liquid and add additional water if needed, pasta should always been submerged in liquid to allow to cook well.

  7. Stir in about ¾ cup parmesan, reserve some for serving

  8. Serve hot with additional basil ribbons and parmesan on top

Note#1: Cream could be substituted with cashew cream and parmesan omitted to make a vegan dish


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