Meatless Monday: Penne a la Vodka with Garlic Bread

I got this dish as a request from a certain Cory Galano from Brooklyn. He thinks that because he’s from “New Yawk” he’s Italian. *insert exaggerated eye roll here* We all know “Galano” is Francais!

You can check out his blog on sports and film here. Don’t tell him I told you, but he’s actually pretty funny.

Anyway, I decided to humor Cory and make some “penne vodka” for ye olde blog.


I usually stay away from vodka sauce, even though it’s my SO’s fave. It’s usually pretty calorie-heavy and laden with so much cream you moo when you’re done eating it.

But then, I cogitated and quoted an inappropriate line from Risky Business (hint: it gave me freedom) and went to work.

I’ve never made a vodka sauce before so I went to the mattresses, or the webpages or something and found this recipe here. It got rave reviews and just needed a slight tweak with the cream. It was a hit out of the ballpark, I tell you.

I used whole wheat penne (cause I don’t have a pasta attachment for homemade penne yet) to make it somewhat healthier. And mushrooms added some meatiness to the dish.


I went cheap on the vodka 1) because I’m cooking it down and burning off the alcohol and 2) vodka is my least favorite alcohol. So the leftover stuff is going to be used solely for cooking purposes. No need to go expensive.

*cheap cheap*

Make this for your family tonight and forgo the meat! And Cory, on days when you feel especially Italian, pull up this recipe and cook for your Ma.

Penne a la Vodka

Gather These Up

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion , chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 6 -8 fresh basil leaves, chopped or 1/8 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 8 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 12 ounces fresh white mushrooms, quartered, about 3 cups
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes(to taste)
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 lbs whole wheat penne
  • 1/4 cup dry Parmesan cheese, plus additional for the table

 Turn it into “a la Vodka”

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan; when hot, saute the onions until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes to the saucepan.
  2. Stir in the oregano, basil, salt and pepper and simmer 1 hour to concentrate flavors.
  3. While the sauce is cooking, heat 4 T of the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms and hot pepper flakes until the mushrooms are golden.
  4. Carefully add the vodka and simmer for 5 minutes to cook off the alcohol.
  5. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer; pour the cream mixture into the tomato puree; stir to mix. Keep the sauce warm while cooking the pasta.
    Vodka and cream...kinda of like a white Russian?
    The mixing of two beautiful things

    Vodka Sauce!
  6. Add the kosher salt to 6 quarts of water. Bring to a rolling boil. Add pasta to boiling water; cook uncovered until pasta is al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain well.
  7. Melt the remaining 4 T of butter in a large skillet. Stir in pasta to glaze, then add Parmesan cheese and mix thoroughly. Stir in 1/3 or the sauce and mix with the pasta; divide among plates. Top each plate with some additional sauce; pass remaining sauce and additional cheese at the table.
Aso, because heavy cream sauce and pasta wasn’t enough calories or carbs, I decided to make homemade garlic bread. I just pretended it was Mardi Gras and the food seemed to slide down my throat easier.
I also forgot to take a picture of the bread once I sliced it. Probably because I was too busy hoarding it and my fingers were far too greasy to pick up my camera. You understand.
Homemade Garlic Butter
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsely
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Mix it up and Spread it
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with the back of spoon.

    Mixed this up first, then added the parsley
  2. You can also mix all of these ingredients up in a mini-chop.
  3. Spread the butter on half a loaf of bread, that’s been sliced length-wise. Bake it at 400 degrees CLOSED for about 10 minutes or so.

    Slather that butta on
  4. Open up the bread and bake for another 5-1o minutes, until bread is crusty and butter is completely melted.
    Bake the bread closed like this first

    Then open it up and bake it like this

P.S. Cory, are you impressed with all the movie and sports lines I’ve littered throughout this post?! Ok, so there was only like, three. But “A” for effort?


3 thoughts on “Meatless Monday: Penne a la Vodka with Garlic Bread

    1. Thanks, Danny! I had never cooked with vodka before, either! Definitely a keeper.

      Thanks for reading!


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