CReamy Penne alla Vodka

penne pasta with vodka sauce
By Vegan Feast Catering (Penne alla Vodka) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Total: 50 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
768 Calories
23g Fat
102g Carbs
30g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 768
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 29%
Saturated Fat 8g 42%
Cholesterol 42mg 14%
Sodium 447mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 102g 37%
Dietary Fiber 7g 25%
Protein 30g
Calcium 295mg 23%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The sauce is rich with bacon and cream or lean with skim evaporated milk and takes on a slightly spicy flavor from the crushed red pepper . This is a classic Italian dish. 

Recipe reprinted with permission from Cooking With the Firehouse Chef by Keith Young (Berkley Pub Group).


  • 1/4 pound bacon, diced (can also use pancetta)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes with juice (pureed in a blender)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream or 1-1/2 cups evaporated skim milk (for a leaner version)
  • 2 (16-ounce) boxes penne pasta
  • 24 fresh basil leaves (chopped)
  • 1-1/2 cups freshly grated Romano cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Place a large pot of cold, salted water over high heat to come to a boil.

  2. In a large saute pan on medium heat, cook and render fat from the bacon. (If you are using pancetta or , skip this step and just saute it with the garlic.) Once the bacon is almost crisp, remove it from the pan and set it aside. Do not clean the pan.

  3. Add the olive oil and, when it is hot, return the bacon to the pan along with the garlic. Saute until the garlic turns light golden brown, then add the onion and saute until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and let it reduce by half, then add the tomatoes, red pepper, and salt.

  4. Simmer the sauce uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the heavy cream and simmer another 10 minutes.

  5. Once you've added the cream, put the pasta in the boiling water and cook until al dente according to package directions. Remove the sauce from the heat, add the basil and the cheese, and stir well. Drain the pasta, shock it with a little cold water, and return it to the pot it was cooked in. Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix gently until the pasta is coated completely. Serve immediately.

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