See, I made this penne alla vodka, and it was pretty damn good. And then I had a nagging feeling in the back of my brain when it came time to post, like I shouldn’t be.

Is it because this is so simple and easy that it’s almost a crime to post about it? Is it because everyone in the world who doesn’t live under a rock, and even some of those who do, probably already knows how to make vodka sauce?


No, it’s because I’ve ALREADY MADE penne alla vodka, and posted about it.


In my defense, it was nearly three years ago, and it does get a little hard to keep track of every single thing I’ve cooked and blogged in my more than three years of writing.

Okay, that’s a giant cop-out. I mean, I maintain a fricking recipe index of everything I’ve cooked and blogged, which it would not be at all difficult to check. So: chalk it up to a forgetfulness-laziness combo.


Anyway, this version is totally superior to the old version, and when I say “superior,” what I really mean is “has a shit-ton more vodka than the old version.” In the ensuing three-odd years, I’ve also learned how to take photographs that are actually in focus, so there’s that, too. But mostly, this version just plain tastes better.

cheesed off

I sauteed up some onions and garlic and poured in some booze and a good pinch of crushed red pepper flake. Once the vodka reduced slightly, I poured in a bottle of strained tomato (available, usually, at Whole Foods or at Italian speciality stores; it’s what my Zie use to make tomato sauce and has the texture of tomatoes that have been passed through a food mill) and followed that up with heavy cream.

The sauce simmered and came together while the penne (traditional) cooked, and then I tossed everything together with a mess of fresh basil and sharp grated pecorino.


I may have made my sauce a leetle too spicy; it tasted wonderful, but was definitely nasal-clearing.  The spice was balanced, though, with the richness of the heavy cream and sweet acid of the tomatoes. The basil lent a fresh note, and the cheese provided salty pops that cut straight through the sauce in a most delightful way.

So ignore that old post, which I’m sure you’ve been doing anyway, and pay attention to this one instead.

Vodka Sauce
makes enough to sauce one pound of pasta

1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup vodka
1-4 good pinches crushed red pepper flakes, depending on how much you like heat
1 24 oz. bottle strained tomatoes
1/2 c. heavy cream

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes.

Pour in the vodka and add the pepper flakes; let the vodka reduce slightly, then pour in the tomatoes. Let the sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Pour in the heavy cream and adjust the seasoning. Let the sauce continue to simmer while you cook the pasta.

Finish the pasta with fresh chopped basil and grated cheese.