This Penne alla vodka without vodka is probably one the easiest, most delicious pasta recipes you can cook. They are made with olive oil, fresh garlic, canned tomatoes, white wine, and heavy cream for the perfect emulsion.
They look pretty, kids love the creamy sauce, and as if that wasn’t enough: you can have dinner ready in less than 30 minutes!
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Can I make penne alla vodka without vodka?
The answer to this question is yes, of course! You do with the recipe what you want. In my case, the only good reason I started to make this pasta alla vodka without vodka it’s because I didn’t have vodka handy.
However, my no-vodka sauce turned out to be so good that 12 years later, I’m still making this pasta regularly and completely forgot about the original recipe for vodka sauce. By the way, I’ll share my delicious penne alla vodka recipe anytime.
It all started when I moved to a small town in Southern California in 2008. We went for lunch at Dattilo’s, a family restaurant, and one of us ordered a pasta bowl with creamy tomato sauce. Like everything in Dattilo’s, it was delicious, and the creamy texture of the sauce got my attention.
When I tasted it, vodka sauce came immediately to my mind. I recreated Dattilos’s pasta a few days later. But I didn’t have any vodka. So, I used white wine instead, and the result is today’s recipe, a favorite pasta dish in my family.
About vodka sauce
Penne alla vodka became very popular in the ’70s and ’80s. Its origins are unclear. The first reference to this delicious recipe was in Ugo Tognazzi’s cookbook L’Abbuffone: stories da ridere e ricetta di morire. There, he included his recipe for pasta all’infuriata.
Tognazzi described it “as a sort of pasta all’arrabbiata, made with ½ kg of penne, ½ kg of fresh peeled tomatoes, a shot of vodka, chili pepper, oil, garlic, and bay leaves.”
With the addition of heavy cream, vodka sauce became very popular in Italy and America, where, as you may know, we love to add cream to almost everything.
How to make quick vodka sauce without vodka
While living in California, where I grew my tomatoes, I made this sauce with my homemade basic tomato sauce. Now that I live in Miami, I use canned organic tomato sauce, which is perfect.
To make this sauce, sauté two or three garlic cloves in a deep saucier with olive oil and pepperoncini (chili flakes). Once the garlic is golden brown, add the tomato sauce and let it boil.
When the sauce is boiling, add the wine and simmer it for 20 minutes, uncovered. A splash of vodka or two will be enough if you choose vodka.
To avoid any tomato splatter, use a splatter guard. After 20 minutes, turn off the heat. Add the heavy cream, stir, and reserve it.
You’re supposed to discard the garlic cloves, but you’ll be forever grateful if you take them out of the sauce and spread them on a piece of rustic bread. This will be as good, if not better, than garlic bread.
In the meantime, cook the penne noodles al dente, and once they are done, strain them and add them to the sauce. Stir and grate abundant Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve immediately with more Parmesan cheese, pepperoncini, and fresh parsley.
Do I need to reserve pasta water for this recipe?
Because this sauce has enough liquids: tomato sauce, white wine, and heavy cream, there is no need to add the reserved pasta water. However, I always save at least a cup of pasta water when cooking pasta. So, in case you need it, you have it handy.
If you make supermodel Gigi Hadid’s pasta recipe, similar to this no-vodka vodka sauce, but has onion and minced garlic, and it’s made with tomato paste instead of tomato sauce, you’ll for sure need some pasta water.
Besides penne, can I use other pasta noodles to make this dish?
Yes, you can. Remember: it’s your meal. The traditional recipe calls for penne, but you can use the noodles you prefer, including gluten-free pasta. I think the pasta of choice in this recipe is penne because of the outside indentations. Therefore, pasta shells, orecchiette, or small rigatoni will work fine with this sauce.
Can I make vegan penne alla vodka?
To make a vegan version of this recipe, you may substitute the heavy cream with cashew or coconut cream. You might have to skip the cheese or substitute it with a vegan version. I have never tried substitutions, though. You may get a different flavor.
Penne alla vodka without vodka recipe
The following is the recipe card. I hope you like this pasta dish as much as we do. Thanks for subscribing to my Youtube channel and visiting my Amazon shop.
Penne alla Vodka without vodka
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 whole garlic cloves crushed with the blade of a knife
- 3 cups tomato sauce
- Peperoncino red pepper flakes
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley minced
- 1 package of penne pasta noodles
- Parmesan cheese I used Parmigiano Reggiano
- Coarse sea salt
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente, following the package instructions.
- Heat the oil in a medium saucier with a lid and cook the garlic over medium heat until golden brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce and cook covered for 3 minutes.
- Add the wine and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, remove the garlic (you can spread it on rustic bread), add the heavy cream and reserve.
- Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir. Grate as much Parmesan cheese as you want. Stir and serve immediately with a pinch of pepperoncino, parsley, and more cheese.
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