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22nd March
written by Steph
Pasta alla Vodka

Pasta alla Vodka

Warning!  The following recipe (which I adapted from one posted over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks) is SO good that I cannot be held accountable if you should find yourself eating three times your regular portion size, simply because you can’t bear to stop tasting it, luxuriating in the tangy, creamy, slightly sweet sauce.  This recipe is quick, easy and oh so delicious… but it is quite rich, so while moderation is the key, I defy you to resist going back for seconds… or thirds!  [Simona, I fully expect you to try this recipe.  If anyone can be guaranteed to have vodka on hand, I am betting it is you! 😉 ] Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 – 3 cloves (or tablespoons!) of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of vodka
  • 1 can of tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes, or even tomato sauce)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt & pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes  (they’re HOT, so add as many shakes as your mouth can take… we’re wusses, so I tend to just shake it 2 – 3 times over the pan, and call it a day)
  • ½ tsp of dried tarragon
  • ½ tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan/Romano/Asiago (i.e., firm Italian cheese)
  • lots of pasta… probably the entire package/box (I finished off many boxes, using penne, rigatoni (or was it rotini?), and some spinach-stuffed ravioli)
Method 1.    Heat large pot of SALTED water over high heat and bring to boil. 2a.    In separate deep pan (I used the wok, yet again), heat your butter and a good healthy glug of olive oil over medium heat.  Once your butter is melted, add in your chopped onions and your garlic and cook until the onions are beginning to soften.  Sprinkle in the tarragon, oregano, and red pepper flakes. 2b.    Add pasta to boiling water. 3.    Pour in vodka and bring pan to a simmer.  Let cook for about 3 minutes, then add in the tomato puree.  Stir everything and combine well. 4.    Reduce heat to low, then add in the cream and stir well.  Let simmer over low heat, and add in a shake of salt, and freshly ground pepper. 5.    When pasta is cooked according to the directions, drain thoroughly and add to skillet containing the sauce.  Add in ¾ of the grated cheese and stir until the cheese has been well incorporated into the sauce.  (If desired, you can save about half a cup of the pasta water for adding to the vodka sauce should it get too thick upon adding the cheese.  I didn’t bother doing this, and was perfectly happy with the sauce’s thickness/texture.) 6.    Serve pasta and garnish with remaining cheese.  Devour serving, then go back for more!
Heaven on a fork...

Heaven on a fork...

Each mouthful of this pasta dish was like a little forkful of heaven; the bottled stuff you can pick up at the grocery store is nothing compared to this.  I tried to eat this dish slowly so that I could savor it, but found it hard to resist a second helping.  The next day, I had to do everything in my power to resist eating it for breakfast, I was craving it so badly!  (Don’t feel bad if you do manage to tear yourself away from the clutches of this pasta; it reheats really well!) The idea of adding vodka into a tomato sauce might sound a little weird, but it really adds this nice base note of sweetness that a basic tomato + cream sauce would lack.  For this dish, you really do need to add the vodka, and you do have to use heavy cream if you want the full taste sensation.  [Note:  We aren't big vodka drinkers here, and the bottle I had was leftover from our little Cabin Christmas, but I will make sure I always have some on hand after making this dish, so that I can make it again whenever I want in the future.] My little dash of inspiration when making this was to add in the oregano and the tarragon, and I really think they deepened the flavor profile of the dish as well.  I’m half tempted to try the dish without the tarragon specifically to see if it was the primary contributor to the gustatory ecstasy I experienced while I eating this, but given how good it turned out, I really don’t think I have the heart to mess with it.  If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like to do a meatless dish, you could easily add in chicken to this (cooking it alongside the onions and garlic in step 1), or some crumbled Italian sausage (which would actually be my choice).  But don’t feel you have to add in meat, because as I said, this dish is really very hearty and satisfying on its own.  You may have to add in another workout session due to its decadence (unless you’re one of those people whose only exercise is restraint…), but it’s well worth it!


  1. christy

    did I miss where you say how much vodka??

    laffed out loud at ugly pants post.
    then laffed some more.
    thanks for that

  2. 03/23/2009

    Christy, sorry for the omission re: vodka amounts in the post! I’ve updated the recipe so that it now tells you to add in 1/2 cup of vodka!

  3. Simona

    Ooh! This recipe was made for me!

    Would you believe I’m Vodka-less at the moment? Shocking yet true.

    I will definitely try this and report back ASAP.

  4. 03/23/2009

    I can’t believe you are currently living vodka-free! But I really do think this recipe was made for you because it is so good and easy and will not be hard to shop for! I cannot wait to hear your report.

  5. 03/24/2009

    Well I am craving for a pasta dish for I’ll bag your recipe for tonight! How can I resist that vodka and dried tarragon? Do you think I can substitute heavy whip cream with just cream? Or I should just go for the heavy stuff. Afterall it’s heaven isn’t it? 🙂

  6. 03/24/2009

    I think you can just go with regular cream if you really wanted to, but certainly nothing else (no milk, or half and half!). The cream gives the sauce a thick texture, so if you use anything lighter, you’ll get a watery sauce!

  7. 03/25/2009

    This recipe looks wonderfully creamy. I like that it is easy, because lately I have been a bit uninspired in the kitchen, and we need an alternate for pasta night. The pics of the finished product are great as well. Thanks for posting this!

  8. 03/25/2009

    The picture (though good) really doesn’t do this dish justice! It is a wonderfully rich and creamy dish – a little tangy, a little sweet, and oh so good. I hope it brings some new vitality to your pasta nights!

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