Penne alla Vodka with Italian sausage is the perfect comfort meal and is made quick and easy for weekday dinners or dinner parties. The mix of cream and tomatoes makes for a tasty rose sauce, while onion, garlic, and other seasonings help to give even more flavour. This popular Italian-American dish is so delicious it’ll leave everyone wanting more.
So why vodka? I’ve wondered the same myself. Does it really need the vodka, and what’s the purpose? Here’s what I found out. The vodka helps to release flavours in the tomato that are sometimes inaccessible. It also acts as an emulsifier, serving to keep the sauce stable, when normally the oil of the cream would react with the acid in the tomato sauce to separate the water in both. So there you go….get to your liquor cabinet and pour it in!
I chose to add Italian sausage to this classic recipe, however you could easily skip on the meat to make it vegetarian or to prepare even quicker. Penne alla vodka is also traditionally made with pancetta, so that’s another tasty option. Either way you make it, I promise you will enjoy. Serve with our classic Caesar salad to complete your meal!
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- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 5-6 sweet Italian Sausages (raw)
- ½ sweet onion (chopped)
- 3 large garlic gloves, minced
- ¼ cup vodka
- 2 lbs roma tomatoes chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ pound penne pasta
- fresh basil and parmesan for garnish
- In a food processor puree tomatoes until smooth, set aside.
- In a sauce pan heat oil over medium heat.
- Add Italian sausage by squeezing the meat out of the casing. Break meat up with a wooden spoon into bite size pieces and cook until no longer pink.
- Add onion (and more oil if needed) and continue cooking for additional 3-4 minutes until soft.
- Add garlic for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add vodka and simmer until reduced by half.
- Meanwhile cook penne according to package directions.
- Add tomato puree, cream, sugar, dried oregano, dried basil, and season with salt and pepper.
- Turn heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Serve sauce over cooked penne and garnish with fresh parmesan and basil. Enjoy!