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  • Pasta Grammar

Penne alla Vodka | The Authentic Italian Recipe

Penne alla Vodka is often attributed as an American dish, but it was actually invented by an Italian and first popularized in Italy. This, the original recipe, was tracked down by Italian food historian Luca Cesari. Check out his new book about the history of pasta here!


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The Original Penne alla Vodka Pasta | Authentic Italian Recipe

Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:





Serves 2.


For this recipe, you will need:

  • 2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 large onion, diced

  • 2 thick bacon slices, chopped

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vodka

  • 1 cup (250ml) tomato purée

  • Salt

  • Fresh black pepper

  • 5.5 oz. (180g) penne pasta

  • 2-3 tbsp. heavy cream, or to taste

Put a large pot of water on to boil. As it comes up to temp, begin cooking the sauce.


Place the olive oil and onion in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion until it is tender and slightly transparent. Add the chopped bacon and cook a further 2-3 minutes, or until the bacon begins to crisp along the edges.



Pour in the vodka and bring to a brisk simmer. Cook until the smell of alcohol dissipates. Next, add the tomato purée and bring to a simmer again. Season with salt/pepper to taste and cook until the sauce thickens slightly. Turn off the heat while the pasta cooks.



When the pasta water reaches a rolling boil, salt it generously and add the penne. Cook as directed or until al dente to your taste.


When the pasta is nearly finished, turn the sauce heat back on and stir in just enough heavy cream to take the color from deep red to orange. Transfer the cooked pasta into the sauce using a slotted spoon, and stir all together. Serve immediately.



Buon appetito!



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