Pasta in Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce

I made this for dinner tonight and forgot to take any pictures, but the recipe was good enough to share… So I’m posting w/o delay. 🙂

I read recently that when looking at canned food, whole tomatoes are better quality than diced tomatoes. For this recipe I used both a can of stewed tomato halves and a can of diced tomatoes, from the same brand. I have to say the color and the firmness of the stewed tomato was superior to the can of diced, so as long as you don’t mind a little bit of work (chopping up the vegetable once you open the can), using stewed/whole canned tomatoes is the way to go.

Supposedly the alcohol unlocks some of the flavors of the tomato that can’t be tasted otherwise. I will say that I did notice a bit of a pleasant sharpness in the pasta sauce that worked well with the sweetness (that I assume came from the canned tomatoes). The vodka I used was some terrible cheap stuff that someone left at our apartment post-party last year. I wonder if a more expensive vodka would be better, but I suspect there’s diminishing marginal returns to the vodka quality — as vodka is technically supposed to be odorless and tasteless, it might not be worth it to use the expensive vodka, but the really cheap stuff might be too rough (although this sauce turned out quite well). So I’d recommend you save your top shelf vodka for something else. 🙂

I was inspired by Shannon, who made a similar sauce earlier in the week. I had most of the fresh ingredients on hand, so this was perfect for cleaning out my kitchen.

Pasta in tomato vodka cream sauce

Serves 4


  • 3/4 lb pasta (I used whole wheat fettucini)
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Two 15 oz cans tomatoes, undrained
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup half and half, or cream if you’re feeling dangerous
  • Small bunch of fresh basil leaves


  • Get pasta cooking according to package directions, but undercook slightly as pasta will be cooked again with the sauce.
  • Saute shallot and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until slightly browned.
  • Add canned tomatoes — I prefer whole or stewed tomatoes, which I dice — and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add a little bit of salt and red pepper flakes to taste, boil for a few minutes.
  • Pour in vodka, reduce heat and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Pasta should be done and drained.
  • Add half and half, taste, and season as desired with salt and pepper. Add pasta to sauce, mix, and keep hot to boiling so that sauce reduces and sticks to pasta.
  • Chiffonade basil leaves and mix throughout, serve.

2 thoughts on “Pasta in Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce

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