Pasta alla Vodka

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Secret Recipe Club: Pasta tossed in a velvety vodka-tomato-cream sauce. Elegance and rustic comfort all in one dish.

pasta alla vodka

It’s time again for our Secret Recipe Club  ’reveal day’. For the uninitiated, the Secret Recipe Club is a group of around 100 food bloggers, who are separated into four smaller blogging groups. Every month, we’re each assigned a blog in our group to look through. We try a few recipes and chose one to post about. But all month long, we keep our assignment a secret until ‘reveal day’. It’s been a lot of fun – and I’ve found some great new blogs to follow and new recipes to add to my rotation.



This month I was assigned to Nicole of Colie’s Kitchen. Nicole and I have some things in common. We both hate to clean, but hate a dirty house. And we both live in a constant state of organized chaos. There are so many wonderful, homey recipes on her blog, it was hard (as usual) to narrow it down! Some of the recipes that caught my eye were Taco Hummus, Jalapeño Cheddar Jack Drop Biscuits, and her Triple Berry Dump Cake. But when push came to shove, I kept coming back to her Fantastico Vodka Pasta Sauce.

Pasta(s) alla Vodka have been around for awhile now, and I’ve watched people swoon over them from the sidelines. I don’t know why I waited so long to try one, but I get distracted by a bazillion other recipes I want to try, and flat out forget. There are a bunch of variations out there on this Vodka approach, but they all involve basically the same ingredients: tomato sauce, cream, both butter and olive oil, onion, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and lots of Vodka.

So what’s all the fuss about? The alcohol of the Vodka cooks off to leave a savory flavor that falls somewhere between Vodka and wine, taking the sauce to another level.  And what a sauce. It’s like velvet. Smooth, subtly decadent, with enough body to cling to the noodles.  You can spice it up a bit with dried red pepper flakes and toss in some basil slivers, but it’s more Lauren Bacall than Sophia Loren. Subtle, casually elegant, and sexy. And addictive. Think stilettos with blue jeans. Now go make it and tell me how you would describe it!

Pasta alla Vodka
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Vegetarian entree
Serves: Serves 4
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 4 cup chopped, peeled*, heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 cup half 'n half
  • 1 t dried oregano (or dry your own)
  • 1¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • handful of basil leaves, slivered
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the olive oil and butter together. Add the chopped onion and sauté until softened, about two minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and sauté for another minute until fragrant.
  3. Pour in the vodka and stir in the tomatoes. Lightly simmer for five minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the half 'n half, oregano, salt, sugar, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Gently simmer for five minutes, until the sauce slightly thickens.
  5. Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of pasta water in case sauce is too thick. Fold the pasta into the sauce, gently tossing with a large metal spoon.
  6. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and slip the pasta into large serving bowl. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese and basil.
* To peel the tomatoes, bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut an "X" on the bottom of each tomato, using a sharp knife. Dip each tomato, whole, into the water for 15 seconds. Peel the skin off, starting from the "X".

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  1. says

    That boozy pasta has my name all over it Susan and as a veggie lover, I am tempted to make this recipe this week as I have all the ingredients! What a great SRC pick! Karen

  2. says

    Like velvet?? I’m sold. I’ve been meaning to try pasta alla vodka for forever too! Love your photographs – they are just gorgeous :) Happy reveal day!

  3. says

    Very cool! I’ve only ever had the vodka pasta sauce from Trader Joe’s, I’ve never tried to make my own. I love using liquors in my cooking both for main dishes and desserts. I haven’t been exactly sure what the vodka adds to the pasta sauce since it has so little flavor on its own, but I’m sure that whatever it does add you’d notice more in a homemade sauce than a commercial one.
    Mary @ Fit and Fed recently posted..Maialina Pizzeria– and the Empty NestMy Profile

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