Penne Pasta with Tomato Vodka Sauce is fast and family friendly

Penne pasta with tomato vodka cream sauce is fast and delicious
With just a few ingredients, this penne pasta with tomato vodka sauce is ready in minutes.

This is the recipe that made it easier for my dad to eat less meat. In the 1990’s he wasn’t wild about the occasional disappearance of meat from his plate and said vegetarian meals left him feeling like he hadn’t eaten supper yet. But he also hadn’t cooked supper so he didn’t always get a menu vote.

His view of vegetarian cuisine changed when this recipe came along. It’s a Patricia Wells recipe and apparently her husband’s favourite. We were all crazy about it and went through a stage where we ate it weekly. (It’s loaded with garlic so pity the person in the household who doesn’t eat it.) I often brought it to potlucks, and when I’d reheat a serving for lunch at work people always asked for the recipe. It’s that kind of dish.

As cream sauces go it has a nice balance. The richness of the cream is cut by the heat from the crushed red pepper and both flavours are rounded out by the garlic. Even better, the sauce is just thin enough to get caught inside the noodles so every mouthful is loaded with flavour.

The appeal of the recipe is as much the speed to prepare as it is the flavour. Just a few simple ingredients that you can throw together in a flash. Add a salad on the side and you have a very satisfying meal. 

Penne Pasta with Vodka and Cream

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1/3 to ½ tsp. crushed red peppers

  • 1 large can of good tomatoes (28 oz.)**

  • 1 lb penne pasta

  • 2 Tbsp. vodka

  • ½ cup heavy cream

  • ¼ cup chopped parsley

Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
In another pot, heat the oil until shimmery and add the garlic and swirl it around. Add the crushed red peppers and sauté for one or two minutes. Be careful not to let the garlic brown. Add the crushed tomatoes (or whole tomatoes run through a food mill) and heat until bubbly.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and add to the tomato sauce. Stir in the vodka, cream and parsley. Stir to combine, cover and let sit for five minutes. Serve hot with a green salad on the side.

Green Tip: Most cans of tomatoes are lined with BPA plastic that can leach hormone disruptors into the tomatoes. Choose Eden brand canned tomatoes (BPA-free cans) or a use a jar of strained tomatoes instead. Fresh tomatoes can be used too.

Here’s more info on safe plastics for food storage.



  1. Hi there… after seeing this recipe (Penne with vodka) in the KV Style I decided to make it for tonight's "family supper". I felt it was a bit "flat". It was much better with added salt and pepper (I don't usually add salt to anything), and some grated Par. cheese. The recipe did not say how many people it would feed and also how much is 1 lb. of pasta. I used a box of 375 grams and hoped for the best.

    I will make this again but add salt and pepper while making and also more red pepper flakes.

  2. sorry I should have added my email address…

  3. Great suggestions. I might try them myself!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *