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This Penne Pasta with Vegan Vodka Sauce is a delicious pasta dish made with tomatoes, cashew cream, and vodka for a simple yet decadent meal.
Wow! We just worked our way through a 30 day cleanse covering 12 new clean-eating recipes, plus 30 more recipes in my FREE ebook.
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Now that we are all blissed out on our awesome, healthy start to 2017, it is time to make a dramatic shift. We are going from gluten-free, sugar-free, healthy and wholesome to decadent and indulgent as we turn towards the holiday of love: Valentine’s Day. And how are we going to kick off these next two weeks of Valentine’s Day extravagance? With one of my favorite recipes of all time – this vegan Penne Pasta with Vegan Vodka Sauce.
What is Penne Alla Vodka?
Like many other foods, Penne Alla Vodka is a meal I never ate before going vegan.
I hadn’t even considered it until about a year ago. Then last year I started experimenting with pasta sauces as pasta is one of the only foods my kids will eat without a fight. For that reason, I’ve gotten skilled at sneaking healthy foods and proteins into their sauces. (See: Creamy Vegan Alfredo and Secretly Healthy Vegan Mac n’ Cheese.) But that’s a different story. In all the pasta sauce experimenting I’ve been doing, I started getting curious about Penne Alla Vodka. Specifically, what is it? And, what’s the significance of the vodka?
Penne Alla Vodka is a penne pasta made with a tomato cream sauce.
The dish has unclear origins with disputes about where and when it was invented. It became popular in the United States, however, in the 1980s. Why vodka? The vodka gives the dish a bit of a fresh sharpness that brings out the flavors of the tomatoes and cream in a unique and perfect bite leaving no boozy aftertaste or bitterness as other alcohols can sometimes do.
In sum: a delicious, creamy, perfectly flavored romantic pasta dish.
HOW TO MAKE CLASSIC PASTA ALLA VODKA
As I mentioned, this vegan pasta recipe is super simple to make. It can be made in just about 30 minutes with minimal prep. And yet it elevates your pasta game to a whole new level.
STEP ONE – COOK THE PASTA
To begin, make the penne pasta. Bring 2 quarts of water to a rapid boil and add the penne pasta. Cook for 10-12 minutes until the pasta is al dente. Be careful not to overcook the pasta or it will become soft and gummy. When the penne is done, strain it through a colander and toss it with a bit of olive oil. This prevents the pasta from clumping together.
STEP TWO – MAKE THE VODKA SAUCE
While the pasta cooks, make the vodka sauce. In a sauté pan, sauté onions and garlic for 5-7 minutes over medium heat until onions are translucent and fragrant. Add tomatoes, cashew cream, and vodka and cook for another 7 minutes at a low simmer, stirring occasionally. Flavor with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Stir in cooked penne pasta. Serve with vegan parmesan and fresh basil.
CAN THIS VEGAN PASTA BE GLUTEN-FREE?
Sure! Just swap out the penne pasta for gluten-free pasta and you have yourself a gluten-free pasta recipe. This is my favorite brand of gluten-free pasta.
SERVING AND STORING VEGAN PASTA ALLA VODKA
- Serve tomato pasta immediately with fresh basil and vegan parmesan. Serve with crusty bread and a vegan caesar salad.
- Store the leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, gently reheat the pasta over the stove with 1-2 tablespoons of water.
- Store extra sauce in the freezer for up to 2 months. When ready to use, place it in the refrigerator to thaw overnight.
That’s it! A quick and easy 30-minute meal that will make you think you’re sitting on a veranda in Italy.
You are going to love this Penne Pasta with Vegan Vodka Sauce.
It is incredibly quick to throw together (especially if you already have the cashew cream prepared) yet it makes for a totally decadent and indulgent meal that will certainly impress your loved ones. Creamy, sweet, and with a bit of a bite, this vegan Penne Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce is the perfect romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.
MORE VEGAN PASTA RECIPES
As you may know, I am a huge fan of vegan pasta. Since it will be a while until I can make it to Italy again, I’m over here making all the vegan pasta recipes I can. Here are a few of my favorite recipes:
- Skinny Creamy Garlic Sauce Pasta
- Vegan Pesto Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Creamy Hemp Alfredo Pasta
- Classic Pasta All’Arrabiata
- Vegan Fettuccini Alfredo
Well, that’s it! Everything you need to make the perfect vegan Arrabiata recipe. Let’s take a look at the recipe card below.
- Bring water to a rolling boil, add enough salt to make it taste like the sea, and add your dried pasta. Cook according to package directions; different kinds of pasta will have different cooking times. Once your pasta is al dente, strain through a colander.
- To make the cashew cream, combine the cashews with 1/2 cup water in a high powered like a Vitamix. Blend until completely smooth. Note: if you don't have a high-powered blender, soak the cashews in warm water for at least 4 hours to soften them before blending them in a regular blender or food processor.
- Clean out the blender. Add the whole tomatoes and blend until they are puréed. Set aside.
- To make the sauce, heat up the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes and sauté for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until onions are translucent and fragrant. Add the puréed tomatoes, cashew cream, vodka, and salt and cook for another 7 minutes at a low simmer, stirring occasionally. Note: It's important to let the vodka cook down so that it removes the boozy flavor. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Stir in cooked pasta, vegan parmesan, and parsley. Serve with additional parmesan, parsley, and red pepper flakes.
- Cook the pasta to al dente to avoid mushy pasta. If you use thicker or thinner noodles, I recommend following the box’s instructions to cook the pasta al dente. Cook times can range from 5 to 6 minutes to 12 or more depending on the variety.
- Don’t be tempted to rinse your cooked pasta. Doing so would eliminate some of the starchiness of the pasta, making it harder for that creamy sauce to stick to! Don’t worry if the pasta is sticking to each other in the colander. As soon as you add it to the sauce, it’ll be perfect.
- Don’t rush the step of cooking your vegan vodka sauce for the full 7 minutes. The vodka is an ingredient that helps to draw out the flavor of your seasonings while tempering the acidity of the tomatoes.