Penne alla Vodka with Fresh Tomatoes

Vegan Penne alla Vodka

It doesn’t take a lot to veganize the classic Italian-American recipe for penne alla vodka — simply replace the heavy cream that’s traditionally used in the recipe with nondairy milk or creamer. Most often, recipes for this dish call for canned tomatoes, but this one relies on fresh tomatoes, making it an appealing and easy meal for summer. Serve with a colorful salad and a steamed green veggie — broccoli or green beans are particularly good. Photos by Evan Atlas.

Penne alla Vodka with Fresh Tomatoes
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian / vegan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Most often, recipes for the classic Italian pasta dish, penne alla vodka, call for canned tomatoes. This one makes use of fresh tomatoes, making it an appealing and easy meal for summer.
  • 10 to 12 ounces penne pasta or mini-penne, preferably whole grain
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot or 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 4 to 5 cups (about 4 medium-large) chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 6-ounce container tomato paste
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend, or ½ teaspoon each dried thyme and oregano
  • ½ cup unsweetened nondairy milk (almond is particularly good)
 or plain soy creamer
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Dried hot red pepper flakes to taste
  • Thinly sliced or chopped basil leaves, as desired
  • Vegan Parmesan-Style Cheez, optional
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions in plenty of rapidly simmering water until al dente, then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and shallot or onion, and sauté over low heat until golden.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and ½ cup water to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and cover. Simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the vodka and Italian seasoning and continue to cook over low heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes longer, or until everything melds into a thick, chunky sauce.
  5. Sir in the nondairy milk, cook for anther minute or so longer, and remove from the heat.
  6. Combine the tomato sauce and cooked pasta either in the pot in which you cooked the pasta, or a serving bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and hot red pepper flakes.
  7. Stir in the basil, or pass it around for topping. Serve at once; pass around Vegan Parmesan if you’d like.


Vegan Penne alla Vodka with fresh tomatoes

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    November 7, 2017 at 1:31 am

    Hello Nava, what may I use instead of vodka? Anything non-alcoholic? Thanks, Susan

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