Penne Con Vodka

Amy Massey
by Amy Massey
4 Servings
2 hr 25 min

This recipe is an ultimate family favourite in my household and one that I expect wi be passed down for generations. The star of the show is the rich sauce that is slow cooked in the oven and consists of a good quality olive oil, slow cooked Plum tomatoes with garlic and onion and of course a splash of vodka. The base sauce is then blended with some double cream to give it the creamy consistency and then lashings of salty parmesan cheese is melted into the pasta.

The addition of smoked pancetta at the end is something I discovered worked really well after many years of cooking this dish, but if you are looking for a vegetarian dish, leave the pancetta out as this recipe is a far cry from the many boring vegetarian options that are out there.

To cut through the richness of the dish, I recommend serving this with my Italian side salad with honey, balsamic and pomegranate recipe. This recipe can also be found at

A family favourite in our household, this Penne con Vodka dish is sure to impress any dinner guest.

Coated in a rich and creamy sauce with melted parmesan cheese and crispy pieces of smoked pancetta.

You won't be able to stop yourself from going back for a second helping!

Recipe details
  • 4  Servings
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 135 Minutes Total time: 2 hr 25 min
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  • 125ml good quality extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tbsp
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsps dried red chilli flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsps dried oregano
  • 235ml vodka
  • 2 x 400g tins peeled plum tomatoes, drained
  • 500g dried Penne pasta
  • 150g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 200ml double cream
  • 100g smoked pancetta strips, chopped into small pieces (optional)

First, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the dried pasta.
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions until al dente, then drain and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Heat the 125ml of oil in a large, heavy based saucepan.
Add the onion & garlic and simmer for 5 minutes until soft & translucent.
Add the vodka and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.
Add the drained tomatoes to the pan, crushing them in your hands.
Season well with lots of salt & pepper, stir well, cook in the oven with a lid on for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove pan from the oven & allow to cool.
Meanwhile, heat a tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, add the pancetta & fry for 5 minutes until it is very crispy. Drain the pancetta on some paper towel.
Blend the cooled sauce mixture in a blender or with a stick blender until smooth.
Return the sauce to the pan to heat through.
Season the sauce well & allow it to simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes.
Add the double cream & allow it to simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes.
Add the cooked pasta & parmesan to the pan and stir well for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.
Add the crispy pancetta and stir through.
  • This recipe pairs really well with my Italian side sad with honey, balsamic and pomegranate dressing recipe.
  • Omit the pancetta for an exciting and luxurious vegetarian pasta dish.
  • This recipe also works well with rigatoni instead of Penne. Check out my photos on Instagram of the dish served using rigatoni.
Amy Massey
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