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Pasta alla Vodka

  • Author: Stephanie Bosch


  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 4.5-oz. tube or ½ cup double-concentrated or regular tomato paste
  • Healthy pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup quality vodka
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1 can whole crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • Coarse kosher salt (Morton’s or Diamond) and pepper
  • 16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate or rigatoni
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (I use Silk brand plant-based whipping cream)
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves (torn or shredded)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (I used Violife)


  1. Fill a stock pot or other large pot three-quarters full with water and heat over high. Toss in a handful of salt and bring the water to a boil. Add pasta. Cook pasta al dente. This usually is about 2 minutes before full cooking time.  When the pasta is done, do NOT drain the pasta water.
  2. Firmly smash 4 garlic cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife and remove the peel. Carefully slice into thin slices.
  3. Peel and dice onion.
  4. Grate 4 oz of vegan parmesan (I used Violife Parmesan)
  5. Heat butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until onion starts to brown around the edges, for 5–7 minutes.
  6. Add the entire 4.5-oz. tube of tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Stir until paste evenly coats onion. Continue to cook.  Stirring often until the paste is deep red and starting to brown on the bottom of the pot, 5–7 minutes.
  7.  Add vodka and balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan, scrape the bottom well, and stir.  Add tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of the pasta water. Stir well.
  9. Transfer tomato mixture to a food processor or blender, and add basil and purée until smooth. Return the sauce to the pan.
  10. Add 1/4 cup of warm pasta water to your cream to keep it from breaking apart.  Add warmed cream to the vodka sauce.
  11. Cook until warmed through, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese and then use a spider or a slotted spoon to remove pasta from the water and add to the sauce.
  12. Toss to combine.
  13. Serve immediately with an additional sprinkle of cheese and basil, if desired.
  14. Enjoy!

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