Penne Alla Vodka

  • Post last modified:April 14, 2022
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Penne Alla Vodka is a classic Italian pasta dish made with vodka and penne pasta, simmered in a creamy, tomato-based sauce. This luscious, flavorful, restaurant-style pasta is a breeze to make at home using an Instant Pot! This recipe can be made vegan, and alcohol-free.

 

Instant Pot Penne Alla Vodka

 

PENNE ALLA VODKA

A classic Italian pasta dish, usually made with heavy cream, crushed tomatoes, onions, and garlic, and of course the soul of this dish, vodka. The vodka or the alcohol is cooked along with the tomatoes. As the sauce is simmered, the alcohol burns off, thus enhancing the flavors of the sauce.

Penne Alla Vodka is my family’s favorite restaurant dish. I love to cook Italian food. This dish is so simple and flavorful, and with just a few ingredients you can make a wholesome meal in no time. This Penne Alla Vodak recipe is inspired by our local Italian restaurant. It is a huge hit in my family!

INGREDIENTS FOR PENNE ALLA VODKA

1 lb tubular pasta (penne or rigatoni)

28 oz tomatoes, crushed or sauce

1 medium white onion, diced

6-8 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoon oregano or Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, adjust to taste

1/2 cup vodka

1/2 – 3/4 cup heavy cream; For the lighter version use half and half, or milk.

2 cups water or broth

1/2 cup Parmigiana-Reggiano, grated

Piece of Parmigiana-Reggiano rind [around 1-2 inch], optional

2 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper, adjust to taste

A handful of fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Pic Shown: Penne Alla Vodka 

 

Instant Pot Penne Alla Vodka

 

HOW TO MAKE PENNE ALLA VODKA

INSTANT POT PENNE ALLA VODKA

You will need an INSTANT POT

Turn ON SAUTE (more). When it displays “HOT”, add oil.

Add onions, garlic, oregano, and red chili flakes. Sauté for 1-2 minutes.

Add Vodka, and deglaze the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn OFF SAUTE.

Add pasta, salt and pepper to taste, water (or broth), and tomatoes. Do NOT stir.

Note: Add the above ingredients in order, and do NOT stir.

Close the lid, vent sealed. Turn ON MANUAL / PRESSURE COOK (high) for 5 minutes.

Note: Please see the recipe notes on – HOW TO COOK PASTA IN INSTANT POT

Once the Instant Pot beeps, do a quick pressure release. Open the lid.

Add cream, and Parmesan cheese, and mix well until cheese melts.

Note: No need to turn ON SAUTE, the cheese will melt in the residual heat.

Garnish with some fresh basil leaves, grated cheese, and red chili flakes (optional).

Enjoy this delicious Penne Alla Vodka. Bon-Appetit!!

Pic Shown: Penne Alla Vodka – Instant Pot

 

Instant Pot Penne Alla Vodka

 

STOVETOP PENNE ALLA VODKA

Cook pasta as per package directions. Reserve 1 cup of cooking pasta water for later use. Drain the pasta and keep it aside.

In a Dutch oven, or a pot, heat oil, over medium-high heat.

Add onions, garlic, oregano, and red chili flakes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Add Vodka, and deglaze the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer the sauce for 20-25 minutes.

Add drained pasta, and mix well to coat the sauce. Turn OFF the heat.

Add cream, and Parmesan cheese, and mix well until cheese melts.

Garnish with some fresh basil leaves, grated cheese, and red chili flakes (optional).

Enjoy this delicious Penne Alla Vodka. Bon-Appetit!!

Pic Shown: Penne Alla Vodka 

 

Instant Pot Penne Alla Vodka

 

PRO TIPS FOR DELICIOUS PENNE ALLA VODKA

Vodka, is the star ingredient of this dish. Use the vodka that you normally drink, that’s the best kind.

Pasta, this recipe is named after penne pasta. However, any tubular pasta such as penne, rigatoni, and elbow macaroni, work great in this recipe. This is a pasta dish, and the flavors in this dish mainly come from the sauce. So, feel free to use any kind of pasta you like.

Cooking pasta can be very tricky, especially in an Instant pot (pressure cooker). Here’s how I cook pasta in Instant pot.

For Instant pot cooking, just add enough liquid (water or broth, and crushed tomatoes) to cover the pasta. Reduce the cooking time to “HALF” what is recommended on the box of the pasta, followed by a quick pressure release.

For aldente pasta, I reduce the cooking time to “HALF MINUS ONE”.

Layer tomatoes on top of the pasta and do NOT stir.

Use broth for added flavors. Vegetable or chicken broth, both work fine.

Always add cream, and cheese once the pressure cooking is done. The cheese melts in the residual heat. However, you can simmer the pasta for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is incorporated well. Do not overcook the pasta after adding the cream.

Herbs and spices enhance the flavor of this dish. Feel free to add herbs of your choice. Fresh or dry herbs such as Thyme, oregano, or Italian seasoning add great flavor to this recipe.

I like to add some crushed red chili flakes or a pinch of cayenne pepper for some heat and additional flavor.

VARIATIONS TO PENNE ALLA VODKA

PROTEIN – Add some shrimp or chicken, great way to add some protein into your diet. You can add pre-cooked chicken breasts or some shredded chicken. You can also sauté shrimp or chicken in a pan, and add it to the cooked pasta.

VEGGIES – Sometimes, I also like to include some veggies such as peas, broccoli, and mushrooms for some added flavor. I add peas just before adding cream. Microwave broccoli for 30-60 seconds and add it to the cooked pasta. Sauté mushrooms along with onions and follow the rest of the recipe.

Feel free to use veggies of your choice. I like to rotate the veggies in the pasta, thus enjoying the flavors and nutritional values of different veggies.

LEAFY GREENS – leafy greens add a punch of flavor and nutritional value. You can add kale or spinach. Add the greens at the end, before adding cream. It takes only a couple of minutes for greens to cook.

BROTH – For added flavor and nutritional value, use vegetable or chicken broth.

Pic Shown: Penne Alla Vodka

 

Instant Pot Penne Alla Vodka

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT VODKA TO USE

Use the vodka that you normally drink, that’s the best kind.

SUBSTITUTE FOR VODKA

Vodka adds a distinct flavor to the sauce when cooked along with tomatoes. I have tried this recipe with sherry and white wine, and they both impart a nice flavor to this dish.

ALCOHOL-FREE PENNE ALLA VODKA

Vodka, when simmered along with the tomatoes, most of the alcohol burns off. Thus, imparting great depth of flavors to this dish. However, you can make this dish alcohol-free as follows:

You can substitute 1/2 cup of white grape juice plus a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar instead of Vodka.

TYPE OF PASTA

Tubular pasta such as penne, rigatoni, elbow macaroni, and ziti, work great in this recipe. This is a pasta dish, and the flavors in this dish mainly come from the sauce. So, feel free to use any kind of pasta you like.

TYPE OF TOMATOES

Use good quality tomatoes such as San Marzano’s tomatoes. These tomatoes are less acidity and are mildly sweet. However, feel free to use the tomatoes available. You can use crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce for this recipe. For smooth pasta sauce, use tomato sauce instead of crushed tomatoes. If you prefer a chunky sauce, use whole tomatoes, and roughly crush them with your fingers.

FOR GLUTEN-FREE PASTA

Instead of regular pasta, use gluten-free pasta. Follow the recipe as discussed.

LIGHTER VERSION OF PENNE ALLA VODKA

The richness in the dish comes from the choice of cream/milk, using heavy cream results in the more rich dish. You can use heavy cream, half and half, evaporated milk, or milk in this recipe.

VEGAN PENNE ALLA VODKA

Here are some of the vegan alternatives you can use to make this dish vegan.

VEGAN CHEESE – use dairy-free Parmesan cheese

COCONUT CREAM – use coconut cream or coconut milk.

NUTS – I use cashews to make this dairy-free.

Soak 1/4 cup of cashews for a couple of hours or until soft. Alternatively, to speed up the process soak cashews in hot water, works just fine. Blend the cashews to a fine paste, using the water the cashews are soaked in, and add it to the dish.

KID-FRIENDLY PENNE ALLA VODKA

Refer to the alcohol-free option discussed earlier. Add more cheese, and cream, for creamier pasta.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS FOR PASTA

Serve this Penne Alla Vodka with some Roasted Lemon Garlic Broccoli and some Classic Caesar salad.

HOW TO STORE PASTA

Pasta stays good for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Store it in a clean, glass container. Re-heat the pasta in the microwave. Add a splash of milk or broth and microwave it for a minute or so. Penne Alla Vodka is ready to be devoured!

Pic Shown: Penne Alla Vodka

 

Instant Pot Penne Alla Vodka

 

 

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Instant Pot Penne Alla Vodka

Penne Alla Vodka

Jyoti Behrani
Penne Alla Vodka is a classic Italian pasta dish made with vodka and penne pasta, simmered in a creamy, tomato-based sauce. This luscious, flavorful, restaurant-style pasta is a breeze to make at home using an Instant Pot! 
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Main Dish/Entrees
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

INGREDIENTS FOR PENNE ALLA VODKA

  • 1 lb tubular pasta(penne or rigatoni)
  • 28 oz tomatoes, crushed or sauce
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon oregano or Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, adjust to taste
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/2– 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups water or broth
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiana-Reggiano, grated
  • Piece of Parmigiana-Reggiano rind [around 1-2 inch], optional
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, adjust to taste
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions
 

INSTANT POT PENNE ALLA VODKA

  • You will need an INSTANT POT
    Turn ON SAUTE (more). When it displays “HOT”, add oil.
  • Add onions, garlic, oregano, and red chili flakes. Saute for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add Vodka, and deglaze the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn OFF SAUTE.
  • Add pasta, salt and pepper to taste, water (or broth), and tomatoes. Do NOT stir.
    Note: Add the above ingredients in order, and do NOT stir.
  • Close the lid, vent sealed. Turn ON MANUAL / PRESSURE COOK (high) for 5 minutes.
    Note: Please see the recipe notes on – HOW TO COOK PASTA IN INSTANT POT
  • Once the Instant Pot beeps, do a quick pressure release. Open the lid.
  • Add cream, and Parmesan cheese, and mix well until cheese melts.
    Note: No need to turn ON SAUTE, the cheese will melt in the residual heat.
  • Garnish with some fresh basil leaves, grated cheese, and red chili flakes (optional).
  • Enjoy this delicious Penne Alla Vodka. Bon-appetit!!

STOVETOP PENNE ALLA VODKA

  • Cook pasta as per package directions. Reserve 1 cup of cooking pasta water for later use. Drain the pasta and keep it aside.
  • In a Dutch oven, or a pot, heat oil, over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions, garlic, oregano, and red chili flakes. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add Vodka, and deglaze the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer the sauce for 20-25 minutes.
  • Add drained pasta, and mix well to coat the sauce. Turn OFF the heat.
  • Add cream, and Parmesan cheese, and mix well until cheese melts.
  • Garnish with some fresh basil leaves, grated cheese, and red chili flakes (optional).
  • Enjoy this delicious Penne Alla Vodka. Bon-appetit!!

Notes

  1. HOW TO COOK PASTA IN INSTANT POT- just add enough liquid (water or broth, and crushed tomatoes) to cover the pasta. Reduce the cooking time to “HALF” what is recommended on the box of the pasta, followed by a quick pressure release.
  2. For aldente pasta, I reduce the cooking time to “HALF MINUS ONE”.
  3. For vegan, alcohol-free, Penne Alla refer to - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
  4. Please refer to the post for the following:
    • PRO TIPS FOR DELICIOUS PENNE ALLA VODKA
    • VARIATIONS TO PENNE ALLA VODKA
    • FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Keyword best penne alla vodka recipe, cheesy penne alla vodka, creamy penne alla vodka recipe, penne alla vodka, penne alla vodka instant pot, penne alla vodka recipe, penne alla vodka restaurant, penne alla vodka without vodka

 

Instant Pot Penne Alla Vodka

 

Jyoti Behrani

Hello!! Welcome to my blog, my journey Living Smart and Healthy! Cook with me easy and authentic Indian food and around the globe. Will be sharing tips and tricks on easy authentic cooking, without spending hours in the kitchen or comprising on authentic flavors. Keeping things simple and healthy is what I am all about. Life is simple, so lets keep cooking simple too!!

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Gail Montero

    5 stars
    I love pasta dishes – my kind of comfort food and this is no exception. A must-try as it looks so tasty!

  2. Jeff

    5 stars
    This is so easy and quick. I love the cheese flavour.

    1. Jyoti Behrani

      Awesome! I am so glad you liked my recipe. Thanks for sharing your feedback!

  3. Anjali

    5 stars
    This recipe was so simple and delicious!! Made it for dinner tonight and it was an easy weeknight dinner for our whole family!

  4. Jess

    5 stars
    I do not cook with alcohol so I appreciate you including the steps to make this without alcohol. Thank you!

  5. Seema

    5 stars
    Hot off my instant pot this recipe is already my favourite. So tasty and love the depth of flavour from the vodka.

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