Classic Penne alla Vodka Recipe

Penne alla vodka recipe is quick and easy to make, ready in minutes.

Penne alla vodka is a tasty and flavorful pasta dish that was very fashionable in Italy in the 1980s. But it’s so good that it has never gone out of fashion.

Like almost all typical preparations from that decade, heavy cream is one of the main ingredients. Bacon, vodka and tomato passata are the other ingredients that make this recipe so special.

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There are several variations of penne alla vodka, all quick and easy and with a very simple procedure, which will allow you to prepare a Sunday meal with an unforgettable flavor!

This one we are going to show you is the classic recipe for the vodka sauce, easy to make and very appetizing. It’s perfect to season any kind of pasta especially penne.

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In fact, this type of short pasta goes perfectly with the vodka sauce and you will have as a result irresistible creamy pennette alla vodka.

In its authentic version, penne alla vodka is an easy recipe that calls for only a few but fresh ingredients.

Now let’s see in detail what these ingredients are and how to make the classic Italian recipe for penne alla vodka

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How to Make Penne alla Vodka: Ingredients

  • Prep Time: 10 Min
  • Cook Time:15 Min
  • Servings: 4


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Step 1) – On a wooden cutting board, cut the bacon into small pieces.

Then finely slice the shallot (or onion) and sauté it for 2 minutes in a large nonstick skillet with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

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Step 2) – Now add the bacon and cook over low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, until slightly crispy.

Then raise the heat and pour in the vodka. Let the alcohol evaporate while keeping the heat medium-high for a few minutes.

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Step 3) – When the alcohol has completely evaporated, add the tomato passata.

TIP: If your passata is too thick, add 1/2 cup of water.

Season with a pinch of salt to taste and stir. Cook for 5-8 minutes over medium heat without a lid, stirring occasionally.

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Step 4) – Finally, add the heavy cream and stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until the wodka sauce is quite thick and creamy, then turn off the heat and let it rest.

The vodka sauce is ready. Now cook the pasta.

Then bring a pot with plenty of salted water to a boil.

Remember that for one liter (4 1/5 cup) of water it’s recommended to use 10 grams (about 1/2 tablespoon) of salt for every 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of dry pasta.

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Step 5) – Cook the penne following the cooking time written on the package.  When cooked, drain them al dente.

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Step 6) – Put them directly into the pan with the vodka sauce. Turn the heat back on if the sauce has cooled in the meantime. If not, stir carefully and serve the penne alla vodka immediately, hot and steaming.

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How to Store Penne with Vodka Sauce

Penne alla vodka are best when eaten freshly cooked.

Should they be leftover, you can store them in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days sealed in an airtight food container.

You can reheat them in the microwave or in a frying pan.

Add a tablespoon of water if you see the vodka sauce has gotten too dry.

Can I Make the Vodka Sauce Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can make the vodka sauce 1 or 2 days in advance.

Store it in the refrigerator sealed in an airtight food container.

When you want to season pasta, simply heat it in a small saucepan or microwave.

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Penne alla Vodka Variations

Penne alla vodka recipe is a classic of 1980s Italian cuisine. Since then there have been many variations born from this recipe. The only two ingredients you can’t do without, however, are vodka and cream.

Let’s see together at some of these variations of penne alla vodka.

Spicy Penne alla Vodka

If you like the somewhat spicy taste of tomato sauce, then you can try adding a hot chili pepper to the soffritto. You can leave it whole or finely chop it for a more intense flavor.

Many people also like a final sprinkling of ground black pepper over the seasoned pasta.

Penne alla Vodka with Smoked Salmon

Replace the bacon with smoked salmon cut into small pieces. For fish lovers.

If you like it you can also add a clove of garlic to the soffritto, whole or chopped to taste.

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Penne alla Vodka: Origins

Reading the name, one would think that the recipe for penne alla vodka comes from Russia. However, it’s certainly not a Russian dish.

Many Russians still don’t know of the success of this dish in Italy in the 1980s. Also because the pasta boom in that country is concentrated in the last 20 years.

The most accredited testimonies trace the origin of penne alla vodka to two hypotheses: that it was born in the mid-seventies in a restaurant in Bologna, the “Dante”. They prepared flambéed in front of the diners.

Or that it was invented by a chef from New York . In fact in the United States it’s still very loved nowaday.

With its shred of internationality, in the 1980s it soon became a classic for singles who want to impress at their first romantic dinner.

Also because it is simple to prepare and above all it requires ingredients that are easily found in every pantry.

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