Penne alla Vodka is one of my favorite Italian dishes. I’ve had a few different recipes and this is my all-time favorite. It’s hearty, it’s comforting, and it’s incredibly easy to make. I don’t understand why anyone would ever buy it jarred after making this.
Penne alla Vodka
Recipe from Cooks Illustrated, adapted slightly
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce (or whatever the medium size is)
1 (7 oz) can diced tomatoes (or whatever the smallest size is)
2 TBSP olive oil
½ small onion, minced (about ¼ cup)
1 TBSP tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ - ½ tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 cup good vodka (I use Smirnoff or Absolut)
½ cup heavy cream (I usually use half & half and add a bit more than ½ cup)
1 lb penne pasta (I used rigatoni this time cause I was out of penne)
2 TBSP minced fresh basil leaves (or about 2 tsp dried)
Combine tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Add some of the liquid from the diced tomatoes.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are light golden around edges, about 3 min. Add garlic and pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in tomatoes and ½ tsp salt. Remove pan from heat and add vodka. Return pan to medium-high heat and simmer briskly until alcohol flavor is cooked off, about 8-10 min (easy to tell by smelling). Stir frequently and lower heat to medium if simmering becomes too vigorous. Stir in cream and cook until hot, about 1 minute.
Meanwhile, boil noodles to al dente. Drain and add to pasta and toss to coat. If sauce s too thick, add a bit more cream.
Stir in basil and adjust with salt if necessary.
Serve and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.