Friday, June 3, 2011

Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce

Back when I was a novice home-cook, I didn't quite understand the concept of simplicity. Way back when, I would toss as many things I could fit onto a plate. Now, I try to think about how things work and how to value the flavor of a single ingredient. Best example: the famed 'simple tomato sauce with onions and butter.' It's been all over the web and back, making friends and fans all over - and for good reason. It's the simplest thing, but also, the most delicious thing ever. My sister made it one night and I couldn't believe how stunning a tomato sauce could be!
Such is the story of this vodka sauce. Simple ingredients + love = stunningness. When I read about how Xialou of 6 Bittersweets made and loved this sauce, I was intrigued. One day, when I noticed I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand, I gave it a try and well, stunningness. I know that's not a word, but it's the only word that describes the beauty of this sauce. Use good tomatoes, it's the key. And fresh basil? It's a must. 
I just love this vodka sauce. It's perfectly spicy, tangy and delicious. My whole family enjoyed it too! Oh, and I must add... one day, I randomly decided to toss some quinoa in the sauce, add steamed broccoli and slivered almonds and it was pure joy! I'm sure it would be good in many other things as well. 

Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce
Yields: about 3 - 4 servings
Original recipe here.

1/2 lb. dry pasta, of your choice
1 tbsn. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion or 2 - 3 shallots
scant 1 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. crushed red peeper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup vodka
1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup whipping cream
3 tbsn. thinly sliced fresh basil
shaved or grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish
additional fresh basil (optional)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and keep warm. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for about 4 minutes or until tender. Add 1/4 tsp. salt, pepper and garlic; saute for 1 minute. Add the vodka (be careful, because it can catch on fire) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by about half. Stir in 1/2 tsp. salt, the broth, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from the skillet and let cool slightly.

If you have a stick blender, you can puree the sauce in the pan, if not, place the tomato mixture in a conventional blender. Remove the center piece from the blender (to allow the steam to escape) and secure the lid on the blender. Place a clean towel over the opening of the blender (to avoid splatters) and process until smooth. Return the mixture to the pan. Mix in the cream, then cook the sauce for 2 more minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked pasta, scant 1/4 tsp. salt and basil. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve immediately.


  1. beautiful photos. sounds deliciousssss! pasta is one of my favorites :D

  2. I LOVE vodka sauce. I am definitely going to try this...

  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Michelle! I also remix this recipe pretty often now. I like to add some anchovy paste, capers, and chopped kalamata olives to amp up the flavor. Of course in that case I reduce or omit the salt entirely. Beautiful shots, too!

  4. lite and delicious :)

  5. Just came across your site and can't wait to cook my way through. Look forward to following you!

  6. this is an exquisite the idea of vodka in it

  7. it's funny how vodka is horrid to drink, but lovely to eat

  8. I've had that recipe bookmarked for ages! I have got to try it soon (and I have a picky husband, so I'm willing to bet he'll like it too!). :D
    Looks beautiful!

  9. I totally saved the 6 bittersweets recipe in evernote a few days ago. Your enthusiasm for the sauce just pushed it toward the top of my pasta recipes to try. :)