I am always disappointed with the influx of take out restaurants serving some type of pasta “Alla Vodka” and it either having prosciutto which I cannot have –
or it doesn’t have pork floating all through out it, but the sauce is less than desirable.
I think the issue is that these places are missing one thing that is crucial. It’s not just a pink sauce, but a VODKA pink sauce! In my opinion many of these places do not- add enough vodka to really taste it in the sauce. When I order “Penne Alla vodka”I want a creamy sauce that has notes of the vodka throughout, and more often than not, I am faced with a flavorless sauce diluted with cream.
I once made this for a group of friends that were coming over. I knew it was an easy meal to put together. Along with a salad – it is very comforting. At the urging of my friend, she told me to post the recipe because her husband could not stop raving about my vodka sauce! I was flattered!
I photographed this one with a spinach and cheese ravioli because I was making it for dinner one night and wanted something a little bit more substanial than just pasta for my family but also to sneak in the spinach for my daughter!
- 2 Tbsps butter
- 1 small shallot, minced (you can use onion, but it makes a difference)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 to 1 &1/4 cups vodka. (like when cooking with wine, it's best to use a wine you would drink, because you will only be intensifying the flavor and likewise with vodka, if you use something you would not drink - you will not like it in your sauce! I used Absolut, because it is what I had on hand, and it came out delicious)
- 2 cups crushed tomato OR your favorite jarred sauce. This is mine: Victoria Marinara sauce
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flaked (or more, this is optional)
- Parmesan cheese, as desired
- Italian flat leaf parsley, for garnish (and a fresh note at the end)
- 1 pound of your favorite pasta (Penne is traditional, but this sauce is delicious on any pasta)
- Cook the pasta according to the directions, but make sure to cook "al dente" since you will be cooking it again in the sauce.* Remember to salt your water generously, as this will be the time for the pasta to really get flavored throughout.
- In a pan with high sides, melt the butter over low heat and when it becomes foamy - add the garlic and shallot.
- When they are fragrant and translucent, add the vodka and allow to cook out for about 5 minutes, or until it reduces a bit.
- Add the crushed tomatoes or your favorite jarred sauce and stir to combine. Add the heavy cream and crushed red pepper flakes. Allow to reduce down until it becomes a bit creamy.
- Add in the cooked pasta and toss gently and cook until heated through and pasta is completely coated. Garnish with parsley and cheese.