This recipe comes from the Kristy Murray’s beautiful blog Linger a Little, one of my favorites. It’s called Olivia’s Vodka Pasta Sauce, or Penne ala Vodka. She doesn’t mention who Olivia is, but she must be “of age.”
According to Kristy, “This recipe elevates tomato pasta sauce to new culinary heights. With heavy cream, crushed tomatoes, and of course vodka. Olivia’s Vodka Sauce is so ridiculously good, you could drink it from a cup.”
I have never previously made vodka sauce. It seemed odd to me. Maybe because vodka belongs in a glass?! And as much as I do drink alcohol in various forms, I don’t like anything really strong, which is maybe why I was put off from the idea of vodka in a red sauce.
However, back 2020 and 2021 when I had thumb surgeries, and really couldn’t cook much – more specifically, couldn’t chop anything – I gave in and tried out some prepared red sauces. And, I was pleasantly surprised.
Here is one that I really liked – Yo Mama’s, from Amazon of course. So that’s when I realized how good a vodka sauce is!
The vodka doesn’t make the sauce “hot” like I expected it to be. But it adds a nice warmth.
Olivia’s Vodka Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 large sweet onions, chopped
1 whole bulb garlic, peeled, chopped
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup vodka
2 – 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 ounces finely grated Parmesan
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes
Ricotta, to garnish
Basil leaves, to garnish
Cooked pasta of choice
Heat a heavy bottom Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 6-8 minutes, or until onions are tender but not browned. Add the garlic to the onions and sauté for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the vodka, scraping up any particles on the bottom of the pot. Then add the crushed tomatoes.
Turn the heat to medium-low and cook the sauce for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to add water to prevent the sauce from being too thick. Add the cream and stir, then add the Parmesan, the basil, the dried herbs, sugar, garlic and onion powders, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a low boil, then simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
To serve, add vodka sauce to to the cooked pasta in a pasta bowl. Add a dollop of ricotta, and garnish with julienned basil leaves.