Monday, July 6, 2009

Pasta alla vodka

My love affair with vodka started in the early ‘80s, when I was way too young to be drinking it. Sometimes, before dinner, my parents would drink chilled Russian vodka in small chilled glasses they kept in the freezer. To me those small glasses seemed like something I should be handling with my little hands and fingers. Soon enough I declared that I too wanted “vokka” (I had some trouble saying vodka, but you will forgive me since I was barely three years old). My parents bought me a little shot glass, chilled it with theirs, and served me ice cold water in it whenever they were sipping their cocktail.
For years I wondered what the big deal about vodka was – to me it tasted just like water. Then one night, I was nine or ten, my dad wanted to try a recipe he had discovered in a restaurant in Rome: pasta alla vodka. That was the first time I tasted real vodka, even though it was obviously diluted in the sauce, and suddenly I realized that vodka tastes a lot better than water.
Since then pasta alla vodka has become a favorite dish of both my family and most of my friends. Using Absolute Pepper makes this already spicy dish even spicier, but regular vodka leads to wonderful results as well. Using good ingredients such as Barilla noodles and good Italian tomato puree is the key to make this dish taste heavenly.


1 pound Barilla penna rigate
2 15-ounce cans tomato puree, preferably “La Contadina”
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup vodka or more if you are a lush like me (better if Absolut Peppar)
In a large pot bring water to a boil.
In the mean time melt the butter in a large saucepan, and add the strained tomatoes. Heat over medium heat and season with salt to taste (keep in mind that you'll be adding a lot of Parmesan cheese later, which is salty, so go easy on the salt now).
When water starts boiling add a tablespoon of rock salt and add noodles. Cook for about ten minutes.
While pasta cooks, slowly add half of the Parmesan cheese to tomato sauce and stir constantly. When cheese is completely incorporated into tomato sauce remove saucepan from fire and carefully add cream, stirring constantly. Return pan to fire and add other half of Parmesan cheese while stirring. When cheese is melted turn heat down to low, add half of the vodka and mix.
Noodles should be ready by now. Strain pasta and add to saucepan. Mix all together and add the second half of the vodka. Stir and serve quickly, garnishing with a leaf of basil on every plate.
WINE PAIRING: No wine with this one. Drink a good, plain vodka martini, or a beer, if you must.


  1. What a great site you have here Kika!!! So many recipes that Dayna and I will have to try, however, I will definitley try to master this one first.

  2. Thanks Zac! Glad you like it. And yes, this is a Kika classic, so it has to be the first one you master! =)



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