Meat free Monday recipe: Pasta alla Vodka

In Features, Nourish, Stories by Nicole Fuge

The Pasta alla Vodka recipe sounds super fancy, but it’s actually super easy (and super delish!)

By Samuel Goldsmith

I’ve no idea who came up with the idea of adding vodka to a tomato sauce served with pasta, but this sauce really is delicious.

I read somewhere that pasta alla vodka peaked in the 1980s after being served in nightclubs across America. I really hope this is true because I love the thought of clubbers dressed in their finest fashion trying to stay clean while battling with this vibrant orange sauce.

Serves 2 (but suitable for batch cooking)


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 banana shallot, very finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/4–1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)

1 × 227-g (8-oz) tin chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)

50ml (1 ¾ fl oz) vodka

75ml (2 ½ fl oz) double (heavy) cream

25g (¾ oz) Parmesan or vegetarian Italian hard cheese, grated (shredded), plus extra to serve

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


100g (3 ½ oz) dried pasta per person (penne rigate or rigatoni work well)

Handful of torn basil leaves

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium-low heat. Add the shallot and fry for 6–8 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for 1 minute before stirring in the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste and vodka. Fry for 5 minutes before blitzing until smooth with a handheld stick (immersion) blender or in a blender and returning to the pan. Set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, usually around 8–10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving a mugful of the pasta cooking water.
  3. Reheat the tomato sauce, pour in the cream and scatter in the Parmesan. Heat, stirring to melt the cheese, for 1 minute before adding in the cooked pasta, a good seasoning of salt and pepper and some of the reserved pasta water (usually around 1/2 cup) to form a glossy sauce. Stir for 1 minute.
  4. Serve with extra Parmesan and the torn basil leaves.

Pasta alla Vodka, mama disrupt

Images and text from The Tinned Tomatoes Cookbook by Samuel Goldsmith, photography by Mowie Kay. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.

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