Penne alla vodka is a pasta dish traditionally made with penne pasta, vodka, heavy cream, crushed tomatoes, onions, and bacon or pancetta.
This dish became very popular in Italy and in the US around the 1980s, but the origin of the Penne alla Vodka recipe has been disputed between Italy and the United States: both claim the creation of this recipe.
According to The Ultimate Pasta Cookbook, penne alla vodka was invented in the 70s at Dante, a restaurant in Bologna, Italy.
The Williams Sonoma Essentials of Italian cookbook states that it was invented in the 1980s by a Roman chef for a vodka company that wanted to popularize its product in Italy.
To support the creation of this dish in the United States, we have two tales: Luigi Franzese, the Italian American chef of Orsini Restaurant in New York and James Doty, a graduate of Columbia University.
As you can see, it’s not clear whether or not Penne alla Vodka is an authentic Italian recipe. BUT based on the ingredients, the technique, and the mark it left on Italian cuisine, the answer should be yes!
Since this dish is liked by many (including me), I decided to put a gluten & dairy free spin on it so those with dietary restrictions can enjoy these amazing flavours of Italy (or the US 🤷♀️).
This recipe is also great for those following a low-carb, keto or paleo diet.
If you love this recipe then you’ve got to try:
- “Spaghetti” with Ricotta & Cherry Tomatoes
- “Spaghetti” alla Puttanesca
- “Spaghetti” Bolognese
- “Spaghetti” with Chicken & Kale Pesto
- “Spaghetti” with a Classic Tomato Sauce
“Spaghetti” alla Vodka
INGREDIENTS: (serves 2-3)
1 large spaghetti squash
200 g pastured bacon or pancetta
1/2 cup vodka
1 shallot or small onion
12 oz tomato passata
7 oz full fat coconut milk , canned
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
For the spaghetti squash:
1. Cut spaghetti squash lengthwise and remove seeds with spoon.
2. Bake at 400 for 30-40 min (first 10-min bake with flesh down, then turn so skin is down for remaining time). Fork should pierce skin easily when squash is cooked. Note: Cooking time varies depending on the size of the squash. Check regularly to avoid overcooking the squash. You want the noodles to be ‘al dente’.
3. Use a fork to scrape out the strands of squash.
Time your spaghetti squash so that it’s done cooking around the same time as your sauce, so your noodles don’t cool.
For the vodka sauce:
1. Finely slice the shallot or onion and place in large frying pan with olive oil. Saute for 2-minutes over medium heat.
2. Slice bacon into small chunks and add it to the pan. Cook over low heat until the bacon becomes slightly crispy.
3. Raise the heat to medium-high and pour in vodka. Let the alcohol evaporate. This may take a few minutes.
4. When alcohol is completely evaporated, add tomato passata. Season with salt, stir and cook for 8-10 minutes over medium-high heat without a lid, stirring occasionally.
5. When the sauce is cooked, add the coconut milk and cook until you get a fairly thick and creamy vodka sauce. Turn off the heat and let it rest.
6. You can add spaghetti squash strands into the pan with vodka sauce and coat OR place spaghetti squash strands into a bowl and top with vodka sauce.