penne alla vodka

Gifts have been opened, paper tossed and my husband is cleaning up the kitchen. I hope you all are having or had a nice Christmas morning doing whatever it is you are doing. We all met up for food and presents and than everyone goes home to do something or nothing of their choice and then we all meet up again for dinner and dessert sometime later today. It works for all of us!

Our Christmas eve is generally either small bites or a dinner and then a game or two. With my in-laws being in their 90’s we tend to stick to dominoes (Mexican train) the days of fast paced trivia games are in their rearview mirror. Last night I considered ordering take-out but decided to try a new recipe, it was delicious so I thought I would share it here. I want to mention that it does bake in the oven for an hour and a half. I hate getting ready to make a recipe and then find out that we probably won’t be having it for dinner tonight. So just giving you a little heads up to start it a little earlier than what you anticipated doing.

Before I get to it I wanted to confess I don’t believe I have ever had vodka sauce, which is a little ironic since my go-to cocktails are vodka based. I knew this recipe had to be good as it is an Ina Garten recipe and I simply love her and pretty much every recipe she shares. It was so good that this morning my husband said he might actually order it out next time he sees it on the menu, that’s saying something.

Penne alla vodka

a simple dish with tons of flavor
Servings 6 people


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 28 ounce whole peeled plum tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound box penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves chopped plus more for serving
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving


  • preheat oven to 375°F - your baking the sauce for an hour and a half
  • Heat the oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, dried oregano and the red pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Add the vodka and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until it is reduced by half. Using your clean hands, crush each of the plum tomatoes into the pot. Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt and a ½ teaspoon black pepper. Cover the pot with the lid and bake for 1½ hours.
  • During the last half hour bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the penne according to the directions on the box. Drain and set aside.
  • Once the tomato sauce has been cooked add it to either a food processor or a blender as you need to puree the sauce until smooth. Return the tomato mixture to the pot. Add the fresh oregano, cream and 1 teaspoon salt and a ½ teaspoon black pepper and simmer partially covered for 10 minutes. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add a ½ cup of Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

adapted from Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa

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