Penne alla vodka

Adapted from hapa nom nom


  • 5 large tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut a shallow ‘X’ in the bottom of each tomato. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer the tomatoes to the ice water. Peel the skins off and slice the cooled tomatoes in half. Dice the tomatoes small, and let drain over a colander. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add the vodka, and return the pan to medium heat. Cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes, a pinch of crushed red peppers, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  2. Generously salt a large pot of boiling water. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Drain well and immediately add the pasta to the sauce. Add the cream and stir until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Divide among bowls, sprinkle with parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve immediately and enjoy!

My sister and I first made this back when I was in graduate school, and she had started working in the city. It was a blast, we got tipsy, and it tasted wonderful. I tried recreating it again on my own, and it tasted nothing like I remembered, and not very good at that. Ten years later, I suggested we try to recreate it again. If only I had had the presence of mind to snap a shot of when the my sister, ever so carefully, set the pan en flambé. ^_^ The guests loved it.


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