I spent some time this weekend cooking for the family and decided to make one of my favorite dishes – penne alla vodka. While it’s not one of the most rustic dishes I’ve ever made, I did use a cast iron skillet to make it so it has some ‘suburban homesteading credibility!’ I have made this dish a few times, slightly tweakning the recipe every time. This weekend’s version was the best yet and I decided to share it with you.
Spicy Penne Alla Vodka Ingredients
- 1lb uncooked penne pasta
- 1/4c extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 3/4tsp salt
- 2tbsp vodka
- 1/2c heavy whipping cream
- 1/4c chopped fresh parsley
- 3 – 16oz sweet sausage links
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
- In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Remove casing from sausage and add to skillet. Cook, breaking up the meat, until brown. Add garlic and red pepper and cook, stirring until garlic is golden brown.
- Add tomatoes and salt. Stir until all ingredients are fully mixed and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add vodka and cream to skillet and mix until color is uniform. Bring ingredients to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Add pasta and toss for 1 minute. Stir in the fresh parsley and serve.
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This penne alla vodka dish is always a crowd-pleaser – whether you are cooking a romantic dinner for your better half or making dinner for a house full of guests. Hearty and filling, it really hits the spot and goes great with a nice cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir. Add a little fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano and you have a restaurant quality meal that you can make on a budget in about 45 minutes.
Even though this dish is great the way it is, there are a few ways to tweak it. The first tweak is the amount of sausage you use. Personally, we like a meal with a lot of meat so we use a full pound of sausage. If you want more of a pasta dish without meat, try using a lesser amount like 3oz (2 links) of sausage. Secondly, this dish has a slight hint of heat thanks to the red pepper flakes. If you want a milder meal, remove the red pepper flakes and if you want a bit spicier meal, use hot sausage and take the red pepper flakes out of th recipe. Whatever you do, don’t use spicy sausage AND red pepper flakes. I made that mistake once and it caused the dish to be super hot and not very enjoyable.
Go and try this spicy penne alla vodka recipe and let us know how it worked out for you!