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Of all the ways to dress up penne pasta, vodka sauce might just be our favorite. This rose-hued sauce gained popularity in Italy during the 1970s, when it won a recipe competition. During the following decade it traveled into American kitchens and made it into fine Italian dining establishments around the globe.

What is it about vodka that lends this sauce such flavor? Oddly enough, vodka’s lack of taste is responsible. Adding vodkareleases chemical compounds called esters, which bring out the purest tomato flavors.

The bottom line: this sauce deserves a place in your kitchen.

Creamy Pink Vodka Sauce with Penne

(makes 8 servings)


1 lb penne pasta, cooked aldente

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

3/4 cup vodka

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Basil leaves (for garnish)


1. Put the olive oil into the pan and add the onions and garlic.

2. Turn on the heat to medium-low and gently cook for a few minutes.

3. Add crushed tomatoes and cook 1 minute.

4. Raise the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil.

5. Add the vodka and a pinch of salt and pepper simmer uncovered for about 8 minutes over medium-low heat.

6. Next add the cream and lower the heat, add drained pasta and toss in parsley.

7. Stir to coat well and grate plenty of parmesan into the pasta.

8. Serve immediately sprinkled with more parmesan and basil for garnish.

Recipe adapted from Food.com

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