Penne Alla Vodka is a deliciously creamy pasta, perfect for those days when you’re craving a rich bowl of comfort food. In this recipe, I will show you how to make the ever so popular dish with of course putting my own healthy twist.
Traditionally it's made with cream, tomatoes, and of course Vodka.
To keep it healthy, I'll show you how to make cashew cream and with one simple change, this recipe can also be vegan as well.
This delicious and creamy pasta includes 9 ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes to make.
This is will pair perfectly after some delicious Bruschetta as an appetizer.
What is Penne Alla Vodka?
Penne Alla Vodka originated in Italy back in the 80s, how exactly is unclear but there have been multiple claims of how the dish was invented. The popularity of the dish took off in the United States and there are many different versions today.
The famous and gorgeous Gigi Hadid shared her take on the classic dish, which made headlines, making Penne Alla Vodka a must try.
Ingredients to make Penne Alla Vodka
- Pasta, the classic pasta shape to use is of course Penne. In saying so, it works perfectly with any other short pasta such as Rigatoni, Cavatelli, Orecchiette and even Casarecce. This recipe works best with a short pasta so that the creamy sauce coats all the grooves and shapes
- Vodka, given vodka is in the name of the dish, you will need 1/3 of a cup for this recipe. It might not sound like much, but a little goes a long way.
- Cashews are used to create cashew cream which is a vegan and much healthier substitute than using heavy cream. Its made by soaking raw cashews in boiling water whilst your sauce starts to cook before blending with water to create cashew cream
- Tomato paste is used instead of canned or fresh tomatoes. Tomato paste is concentrated tomatoes and brings a deeper flavour and darker colour in a short amount of cooking time. If you prefer to use canned or fresh tomatoes, the sauce will need to be cooked for longer.
- Onion, brown onion is a better choice rather than using red onion in this dish, as the tomatoes with the vodka create a sweet sauce so white onion balances these flavours.
- Garlic, cant be a tasty pasta without garlic right! Just make sure not to cut the garlic too small as garlic can burn easily when being sautéed. Small cubes work best so that they can be cooked with the onion.
- Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano) cheese is added for its creaminess and touch of saltiness. It's added right at the end when the pasta is cooked with the sauce for the last few minutes. To make the dish completely vegan, the cheese can be substituted with vegan parmesan, nutritional yeast, or simply just omit it.
- Chilli, red chilli flakes are added to the dish for a subtle spicy hit. You can add as little or as much as you like depending on preference. If serving to young children, they can easily be left out
No as the vodka is added early in the cooking of the sauce and is cooked down
The vodka enhances the sauce and provides richness as it releases flavour in the tomato.
Typically, alcohol such as wine is used in Italian sauces for this reason.
This recipe eliminates heavy cream and instead substitutes for cashew cream being a much healthier alternative.
Tips to make Spicy Vodka Pasta
- Always save some pasta water as the pasta water will help create a glossy creamy sauce. Without it, it can be quite thick due to the cashew cream
- If you prefer not to use alcohol, you can substitute it with water
- To make this recipe completely vegan, use a vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast. This recipe will taste great without any cheese
- Ensure not to overcook pasta when boiling as it needs to finish cooking in the sauce for the best flavour
Simply serve the dish into your bowl and devour your rich and creamy pasta without any guilt or a touch of cream. Ah the ultimate comfort food!
More Pasta Recipes
Penne Alla Vodka
- 350 g penne pasta
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 7 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 onion
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 50 g grated parmesan cheese (or vegan cheese or nutritional yeast)
- ⅓ cup vodka
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes (add more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
- Handful fresh basil leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Extra basil leaves
- Soak cashews in a bowl with boiling water for 20 minutes
- Dice onion and garlic into small cubes.
- Sauté onion in olive oil on a medium heat, once they are transluce, add your garlic and cook for a few mins.
- Add tomato paste and fry together for 5-8 minutes to releas all the beautiful flavours.
- Add vodka, cook the alcohol down in the sauce, season with salt and pepper and chill flakes
- At the same time, add the pasta in heavily salted boiling water and cook until al dente. Make sure not to overcook as pasta will need to finish cooking in the sauce
- Drain cashews, add to a food processer or blender with 1 cup of warm water. Blend until smooth to create cashew cream.
- Pour cashew cream into the sauce, stir together and season with salt and pepper.
- Add a good splash of pasta water to the sauce, tear in the basil leaves.
- Add the cooked pasta along with the parmesan cheese. Stir and cook together on medium heat for a few minutes until pasta is cooked and nicely coated in the creamy sauce. If sauce is too thick, add another splash of pasta water.
- Serve with some extra basil leaves on top and enjoy your creamy bowl of goodness 🙂