Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Campanelle with Vodka Sauce

I bookmarked this recipe for pasta alla vodka from the Pioneer Woman Cooks last month, and I've been craving it ever since! I finally got around to making it, and I'm so glad I did! The vodka sauce is pretty much the best vodka sauce I've ever had. You can really taste the vodka, but it's not overpowering, and overall the dish is creamy and delicious. (Well, it would pretty much have to be considering what goes into it!) I couldn't find the cute ruffly pasta that Ree used in her dish, but I did find some cute campanelle pasta at the store that worked really well.

The pasta is amazing, and even better, it's really easy to make. The sauce cooks up in less time than it takes the water for the pasta to boil and the pasta to cook, so start the pasta first and then the sauce. If you don't time it perfectly, that's fine--you can either turn off the heat under the sauce and then reheat with the pasta once that's cooked, or hold the pasta in your collander (not in the water as you don't want it to overcook) while you wait for the sauce to finish. This makes a great meal with a simple salad and some good bread.

Campanelle with Vodka Sauce (from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, original recipe here)
Serves 4-5

1 pound campanelle pasta (or another favorite pasta)
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup vodka
1 can tomato puree (15 ounces)
1 cup heavy cream
A generous pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve

1. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the onions and garlic. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes, until nicely softened.
3. Pour in the vodka. Stir and cook for three minutes until slightly reduced. Add the tomato puree and stir to combine.
4. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the heavy cream. Allow to the sauce simmer, being very careful not to overheat. Stir in red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.
5. Add cooked pasta to the sauce, tossing to combine. Splash in a little water if the sauce is too thick. Make sure everything is warmed through, and then serve with more grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

Be sure to check out some other delicious pasta recipes at Once Upon a Feast in this week's Presto Pasta Nights round-up, which will be posted this Friday.


  1. Sara, This looks sooo good. Don't you just love The Pioneer Woman! I am from Ohio and must say that I never had (nor heard of) Vodka sauce until I ate at my sister-in-law's house. She is from Long Island. I guess that recipe card didn't make it to the midwest! Or I am just really sheltered. Looks fab though and we will give it a shot (no pun intended) :).

  2. @ Bridgett:
    Yes, the Pioneer Woman is fantastic! Let me know how the vodka sauce turns out! :)

  3. Delicious looking dish. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Night.

  4. Tomatoes, cream and vodka on pasta...mmm...

  5. Looks delicious! I've only made pasta with vodka sauce once and it's definitely craveable!

  6. I remember having vodka pasta sauce at a restaurant like 10 years ago that tasted so much like vodka I wanted to gag. Ever since then I've been turned off by it, but seeing yours look so good, I may have to make it myself!

  7. What's the point of adding the vodka before the tomatoes? The point of the vodka is to extract more of the tomato flavor out - letting it burn off before adding tomatoes sorta defeats the purpose.

    It still looks good though.

  8. @ Jennifer: This vodka sauce does taste like vodka--not overwhelmingly so (at least in my opinion), but if you really hate the taste of vodka, I don't think you would like it.

    @ Aaron: I'm honestly not sure about why the recipe was written as it was; I just followed it! :-D I would guess that the amount of vodka is large enough that it doesn't all burn off in the 3 minutes before you add the tomatoes. In any case, the end result is pretty tasty! Maybe I will have to try it the other way around another time to compare...yum. :)

  9. Your pasta looks delicious. YUM!

  10. I love vodka sauce and yours looks great.