House Recipes: Penne alla Vodka
Ready in just 20 minutes, this fiery dish is the perfect date-night option if you’re light on time
Friday 17 March 2023 By Soho House
A staple of Italian-American restaurants across the US since the 1980s, vodka sauce on pasta became a viral sensation in 2021, courtesy of supermodel Gigi Hadid, and for good reason. With both style and substance, most of the ingredients are pantry staples, too.
As the dish’s main character, vodka is an absolute non-negotiable here as the ethanol acts as an emulsifier, allowing the water and lipids (in the oil) to remain mixed together. Vodka also helps enhance the sauce’s fruitiness, while bringing a background heat and sharpness that balances the decadence of the sauce.
Our tip? Take care to gently cook the shallots and garlic to keep them sweet and mild.
Penne Alla Vodka
125g/ 4.4 oz penne rigate
170ml/ 5.74 fl oz vodka sauce
12g/ 0.42 oz butter
15g/ 0.52 oz Parmesan, grated
5g/ 0.17 oz basil leaves, torn
For the vodka sauce
30ml/ 1.01 fl oz olive oil
10g/ 0.35 oz shallots, grated
1.5g/ 0.05 oz garlic, chopped
50g/ 1.76 oz tomato paste
15ml/ 0.52 fl oz vodka
100ml/ 3.38 fl oz double cream
Pinch of crushed red chilli pepper flakes
1. To make the vodka sauce, heat the oil in a large pan.
2. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan. Sweat them gently until soft and translucent.
3. Stir in the tomato paste, making sure it doesn’t burn. Continue to cook for five minutes until the paste starts to turn a darker red.
4. Add the vodka and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated.
5. Pour in the cream, add the chilli flakes and bring the mixture to a boil. Season with salt to taste and then remove from the heat.
6. Next, drop the pasta in boiling salted water and cook until it becomes al dente. Once cooked, add the pasta to the vodka sauce.
7. Coat the pasta in the sauce and finish with butter, half of the grated Parmesan, and half of the torn basil. Toss to combine.
8. Garnish with the rest of the Parmesan and basil. Drizzle with olive oil.