"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!


Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla vodka: simplelivingeating.com

On does not usually associate vodka with tomato sauce, which makes the origin of "Penne alla vodka" something of a mystery.

Some food historians date the dish back to Bologna, Italy... but most believe it was created in the melting pot of America. 

penne alla vodka: simplelivingeating.com

I believe the story that chef Luigi Franzese of the New York City restaurant Orsini needed to quickly thin a tomato sauce. He saw a bottle of Russian vodka and poured it in...creating Penne alla Russa which I think is a fitting name. 

penne alla vodka: simplelivingeating.com

Wherever this dish came from doesn't really matter... it is a hit, and you can find it on the menu of most Italian restaurants... a favorite standard of Italian-American cuisine; that is easy to make at home.

penne alla vodka: simplelivingeating.com

The vodka is used the way wine is usually added to many Mediterranean dishes. It adds a bright flavor that really shows off the tomatoes and gives the sauce a boldness that is much more complex than ordinary tomato sauce. 

Penne alla Vodka

by Diane Balch
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Keywords: entree pasta vodka tomatoes Italian

Ingredients (4 to 6 servings)
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced and salted
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup of vodka
  • 1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of cream
  • 1/4 cup of fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound of penne rigate pasta


1) Put pasta water on to boil with 2 tablespoons of salt in it.

2) In a large skillet on medium heat saute the garlic and red pepper flakes in the olive oil. Do not brown the garlic.

3) Add the vodka once the garlic has cooked in the oil for about 1 minute. Turn the heat up to high and bring the sauce to a boil.

4) Lower to a simmer and stir and cook for about 3 minutes to reduce the vodka a bit.

5) Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil again. Let simmer while you stir for about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and add the cream and parsley with some salt and pepper. Leave it on the warm burner and stir until the pasta is ready.

6) When the pasta is cooked add it to the skillet and stir until it is coated. Sprinkle the dish with parmesan cheese. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Great with a light green salad.

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  1. Diane,
    We love Penne alla Vodka and we've made it at home too. Hope you're having a great summer.

  2. Sounds delicious. We enjoy Penne alla Vodka!

  3. Love your Penne alla Vodka recipe - the addition of the cream is lovely! Pinned and sharing :-) Thank you so much for being a part of the Hearth and Soul hop, Diane!

    1. You are the best. I appreciate you promoting my recipes so much.

  4. Hi Diane,
    We will just love your Penne Alla Vodka, it looks delicious. I appreciate you sharing this awesome post with Full Plate Thursday and have a great day.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

    1. Thanks Miz Helen,
      Hope you are having a terrific summer... not too hot in Texas I hope!

  5. Thank you so much for linking up at Tasty Tuesday! This post has been pinned on the Tasty Tuesday Pinterest board! I love having you and can't wait to see you next week!

  6. Another gorgeous recipe from a gorgeous lady. Not sure how much vodka would make it into the sauce, that's the only problem. Dinner time around here is always so stressful! lol Thanks Diane so much for linking up to Thriving on Thursdays. Hope to see you tomorrow!

    Anne @ Domesblissity xx

    1. If dinner is stressful I suspect that vodka could ease the stress for everyone.


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