Can you even believe this was my very first attempt at making Penne Alla Vodka? Of course, I had to do a bit of research prior to diving in. After googling, and with several visits to Pinterest, I found that this dish can be prepared in a few different ways. However, most are the relatively the same. Probably the only one thing that is a bit different in my recipe, is the use of shallots instead of onions. If you follow my recipes, you may notice how often I use shallots in replacement of onions. However, feel free to take a more traditional approach to this recipe and use an onion.
Also, most recipes for Penne Alla Vodka call for either the use of whole tomatoes, or tomato paste. To keep from having to simmer the tomatoes to create depth of flavor, I chose to use tomato paste. So, keep in mind if you are using whole tomatoes, you will need to simmer the sauce much longer. In addition, the use of paste is a huge time saver. So, if you want to create an incredible weeknight meal at home, that you will find served at most Italian restaurants, stick around. In the time it takes to cook the pasta to al dente, you will be ready to serve!
Naturally, I created a short video on TikTok making this incredible Penne Alla Vodka. Click here to view. If you have not yet signed up for this social media platform, use my code 5SSIS800K0H06 to create an account.
A FEW NOTES
Although, not quite the traditional preparation, you can also choose to spice it up a touch with crushed red pepper flakes. Of course, this was a no brainer for me. Just a touch elevated this dish to a whole new level. Additionally, I have had several questions regarding the use of vodka. Most of the alcohol is going to “cook off” as the sauce is simmering. The vodka itself just adds a nice peppery flavor to the finished dish. So, if you are averse to using vodka, or you do not have on hand, just omit.
HOW TO MAKE PENNE ALLA VODKA
As mentioned above, if you are using tomato paste, this dish can be on your table in the time it takes to cook the pasta to al dente. Start boiling a large pot of water for the pasta. Once the water is to a rolling boil, salt the water. Drop the pasta. For this recipe, I used an organic, large penne from Alessi.
Heat up the olive oil and butter in a saucepan. Add in the minced shallots and garlic. Cook for about four minutes. Do NOT brown or burn. Sprinkle in the crushed red pepper flakes (optional). Coat the garlic and shallots with the tomato paste. If you can find tomato paste in a tube, use the entire tube.
Pour in the vodka. Use whatever brand you have on hand. My favorite is Grey Goose. I even created a signature cocktail using this incredible vodka. Click here to check out The Charlotte Fashion Plate Cocktail. It’s a spin on a classic! Try it and tell me what you think.
Stir in a ladle full of pasta water. Allow the sauce to simmer for another five minutes. Turn off the heat. Add in the heavy whipping cream. Combine well. If you think the sauce is a bit too thick, add in a touch more pasta water. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta directly from the pot to into the sauce. Coat well. Also, if your timing is a bit off, meaning the pasta cooked to al dente before the sauce was ready, drain the pasta. However, ensure you reserve at least two cups of the pasta water.
Slowly, incorporate the freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chiffonades of basil. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl. Garnish with additional ribbons of fresh basil. Serve with a side salad and loads of crusty bread. ENJOY!
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