Penne alla Vodka

3:10 pm on 7 September 2015

Serves 4


  • 1/3 onion or 1/2 scallion, peeled and finely chopped
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5 1/2 T (80 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (230 g) tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) good-quality
  • Russian vodka
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
  • coarse sea salt
  • 500g penne piccole lisce
  • 30g Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated


In a large skillet, sauté the onion and the pepper flakes in the butter over medium heat. Add the tomato puree, reduce the heat to low, and cook for a few minutes, then stir in the vodka. Cook down for 15 minutes and add the cream. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a handful of coarse sea salt and add the pasta. Cook the pasta until it is al dente, drain in a colander, and add to the sauce. Turn the heat to high, and pan-fry for one minute, tossing to thoroughly coat the pasta with sauce. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.


You can make the recipe lighter by replacing the butter with olive oil and reducing the quantity of cream by half. You can also try these two typical variations, which will make the sauce even richer.

Variation I

Finely chop 1 thick slice of pancetta, and brown it in the butter with the onion and red pepper flakes. Continue with the rest of the Penne alla Vodka recipe.

Variation II

Quickly sauté thin smoked salmon slices with butter, chopped onion, and ½ cup of vodka. Let the alcohol evaporate and add the cream.

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm

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