Bowl of penne a la vodka pasta
  • Bowl of penne a la vodka pasta
  • Image by LeeAnnWhite/iStock/Thinkstock

We created this recipe here in the restaurant a long time ago and it is our most popular dish. We get calls from people who want this recipe to serve at parties.

I really love to eat this because it's kind of spicy.

It's a really easy recipe to make, but one thing to remember is that it must cook slowly in order to reduce the juice from the tomatoes. And the cream must be added in small portions; otherwise it will not blend into the sauce properly.

A common question is what type of vodka to use. You can use any kind of vodka.

I like red wine with this. One we recommend is French, Baron Philippe de Rothschild's Medoc.


Vodka sauce: Drain diced tomatoes, removing as much of the juice as possible. Sauté the onion in butter and olive oil until translucent. Add the drained tomatoes. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Add vodka, red pepper flakes, parsley, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the whipping cream. Continue to simmer gently about 15 minutes. At this point the sauce is ready to be served or refrigerated for future use.

Prepare penne pasta per package directions. Drain. (Do not use cold-water rinse.)

Sauté mushrooms in clarified butter. When mushrooms have browned, add 1 cup of vodka sauce and 4 tablespoons of whipping cream. Fold cooked pasta into the pan and add Pecorino Romano cheese. Toss well to coat. The sauce should cling to the pasta, but not be too thick or too thin. Garnish with parsley.

This recipe serves 2 or 3 people. (Our portions are really big.)


Vodka sauce

  • 4 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Dash of olive oil 1/2 cup vodkaCrushed red pepper flakes, to taste 1/2 bunch parsley, finely choppedSalt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 half-pint whipping cream


  • 1 pound package of penne pasta 1/3 cup mushrooms, sliced2 tablespoons clarified butter (or use unsalted butter if necessary)
  • 4 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Parsley for garnish

By Franco Ruiz, Executive Chef, Rhinoceros Café and Grill, Coronado

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