Penne with Vodka Sauce


Penne with Vodka Sauce is a classic Italian preparation. I first sampled the combination on my honeymoon at an Italian restaurant in St. Martin, and it has been a favorite since.

While the sauce in its original form is quick and easy to prepare, I’ve simplified it further by using canned diced seasoned tomatoes with oregano, basil and garlic. Making use of this convenience product doesn’t decrease the flavor of the final dish. And, my addition of diced prosciutto along with some chopped onion and dried red pepper flakes in the beginning of the recipe further enhances the sauce’s flavor.

The resulting dish is hearty and satisfying. Add some wine, crusty bread, and a salad for a quick dinner I hope you’ll serve often.

  • 8 ounces dried penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces sliced prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup vodka*
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes seasoned with oregano, basil and garlic, undrained
  • 1 cup whipping cream or half and half
  • Freshly grated Romano, Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.While pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add chopped prosciutto, onion and dried red pepper flakes and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes.

Remove pan from burner and add vodka. Return pan to burner and stir, loosening up any browned bits from bottom and reducing by half, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil, reduce slightly before stirring in cream. Boil until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.

Drain pasta and return to the pot. Toss with the sauce and pour out onto a large platter. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and chopped parsley.

Makes 6 servings.

*White wine or chicken broth may be substituted for the vodka.