This tasty and elegant dish of Penne alla Vodka is 100 percent vegan, and it is classy and delicious enough for a special family dinner or a party with friends.
Pasta with a simple but delicious marinara is my go-to dinner on weeknights when I want to get something together in a hurry. This gorgeous Penne alla Vodka is just as easy and tasty, but with a dash of extra elegance.
There are just nine ingredients needed for this recipe (and salt and ground black pepper) and you can put it together in no more than 30 minutes. But it’s good enough to serve to guests at a fancy dinner party. You don’t even need to sprinkle on any cheese, because the “cream” in the sauce makes that completely unnecessary.
For recipes that are as simple as this, you want to use the best ingredients you can possibly get your hands on for the most flavor. So while a can of plum tomatoes would work well, a can of San Marzano tomatoes is even better.
The sauce itself is worthy of an ode. It’s creamy and a pretty orange-red, and it tastes so good, you might find yourself shoveling it into your mouth with the ladle. You don’t have to limit yourself to pouring it over pasta. Drizzle it over crepes or over a chunk of baked tofu or tempeh, or even roasted mushrooms. The possibilities are endless and each is delicious.
The vodka is a key ingredient in the recipe, so don’t skip it. The alcohol cooks out so your kid — or you — won’t be tipsy after you’ve eaten it (good for the kid but not so good for you, huh?) I serve it to Jay who loves this dish, and I’ve never had to deal with slurred sentences or seeing four instead of two. 😉
Although this superficially appears to be an Italian recipe, and it is often called a modern Italian classic, the origins of Penne alla Vodka are a topic of hot debate. Some believe it was invented right here in the United States, making it more American-Italian than Italian-American. Yet others believe it was the invention of vodka importers because vodka in an Italian recipe does sound a little weird, doesn’t it?
But whatever its origins, who cares when the recipe itself is so delicious. Serve it with a salad of leafy greens for a fabulous meal. It is a hot favorite in our home, and I hope you will try and enjoy it too.
More pasta recipes to try:
Penne alla Vodka recipe:
Penne alla Vodka
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
- 2 large cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 1/2 tsp dry oregano (In summer, you might try using fresh oregano or fresh basil for a wonderful flavor)
- 1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes (Plum tomatoes make an okay substitute)
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust up or down to your taste)
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente-- firm but tender.
- Place the tomatoes in a bowl and squish them with your fingers to break them down. Set aside.
- Blend the cashews with 1/2 cup of water until very smooth. Set aside.
- While the pasta water is boiling, heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, season with some salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and cook another minute. Add the tomatoes, vodka, oregano and red pepper flakes. (Anytime you add alcohol to a pot that's on the stove, make sure you either turn the heat off or very low).
- Stir, bring the sauce to a boil, then turn down the heat and let it continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the cashew cream and let it all warm through. Turn off the heat. Drain the cooked pasta and add it the sauce and mix well. Check for salt and pepper and add more if needed. Garnish, if you wish, with fresh parsley or oregano. Serve hot.