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
- 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
- Cook the pasta according to package directions in plenty of rapidly simmering water until al dente, then drain.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and shallot or onion, and sauté over low heat until golden.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sir in the nondairy milk, cook for anther minute or so longer, and remove from the heat.
- 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.
- Stir in the basil, or pass it around for topping. Serve at once; pass around Vegan Parmesan if you’d like.