Recipe Swap: Penne with Vodka Sauce


This Recipe Swap almost didn't happen because there weren't enough participants, which surprised me since I figured most people cook with alcohol (the theme of the swap) on a more regular basis than I do. Apparently this was not the case. I had a really hard time finding a recipe that I could even submit!

However, the one I got in return is absolutely perfect. When I received the email and saw the assigned recipe I maybe kinda made a squee'ing noise. I've wanted to try a pasta with a vodka sauce for I don't know how long now. However, every time I wanted it, we didn't have any vodka in the house and since we very rarely drink it, I decided it was easier to just make it some other time, rather than schlep to the liquor store for only a tiny, tiny amount.

The last time I was at the liquor store, stocking up on an unhealthy amount of wine, I noticed there were quite a few different flavored tiny bottles of vodka near the register. I grabbed a few different ones, figuring I'd eventually find a recipe that called for them. It wasn't until I got home that I realized one of them was just plain vodka. Which works perfectly for this recipe.

Penne with Vodka Sauce and Italian Sausage
Source: So Tasty, So Yummy
Servings: 6
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    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 4 links Italian sausage
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
    • 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
    • 3/4 tsp. salt
    • 1 lb. penne pasta
    • 2 tbsp. vodka
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
2. Slice the sausage into 1 1/2" slices and add to the skillet. Cook 3-5 minutes or until browned. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, stirring until the garlic has browned.
3. Add crushed tomatoes and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook penne according to package directions. Drain.
5. Add the vodka and heavy cream to the skillet and bring to a boil again.
6. Stir in the pasta and reduce heat to low. Cook for 1 minute.
7. Stir in the basil, then serve.

I don't know exactly what I was expecting this to taste like, but it definitely surpassed it by about a hundred times. The cream sauce was incredible and nicely lightened up when you got a piece of the basil mixed in. I was concerned this would still have a liquor flavor and Tom wouldn't like it, but he didn't and he actually said twice that he really enjoyed it. This is getting added to the "make again" list. 


  1. I am constantly amazed the power of vodka in a tomato cream sauce. Whenever I leave it out, it is never as good. Glad you enjoyed!

  2. Rarely drink vodka?!?! How can this be? ;) This sounds like a great recipe!

    1. Way too many screwdrivers one evening have made me extremely wary of vodka. It only took 6 years to be able to look at orange juice again without cringing.

  3. This looks delicious!
    Do you think subbing half and half would work okay?

    1. I'd think so. I actually poured maybe 2-3 tbsp. of half and half into the measuring cup before I realized I had grabbed the wrong carton.

  4. Vodka makes such a huge difference in this dish! Looks lovely!

  5. I have made this recipe before and I was shocked at how good the vodka makes the tomato cream sauce. It is amazing!

  6. I have also been wanting to try a vodka sauce...this looks delicious! I will have to try it.

  7. I love vodka sauce, but I've never made it at home! Looks very easy!

  8. Homemade vodka sauce is very tasty.

  9. I so love vodka sauce and my husband would love the addition of looks great1

  10. I love penne alla vodka! You've made me VERY hungry!


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