Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka is one of those recipes that too often gets over looked in Italian cuisine. It’s not just penne pasta in tomato sauce, there’s a lot more to this simple, delicious comfort food.

In Italian cuisine, you don’t often find cream sauce mixed with tomatoes or red sauce because the acidity of the tomatoes makes the oil in the cream separate. But in Penne alla Vodka – the vodka serves as an emulsifier which prevents that separation from occurring.

Penne alla Vodka might take some time to prepare but it is uniquely delicious.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced or grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes drained
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano


  1. Heat the olive oil, onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, and dried oregano in a large skillet over medium low heat.
  2. Cook, stirring often until the onion is soft and the garlic fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the vodka, raise the heat, and bring the mixture to a boil, boil 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and add to the bowl of your crockpot along with the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and large pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
  6. Transfer the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth.
  7. Return to the crockpot and stir in the the cream and the parmesan. Cook uncovered on high for 10 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain.
  9. Divide the pasta among plates and top with the sauce, fresh oregano and grated parmesan. Buon Appetito!

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