Date Night MOCK Vodka Sauce (Jersey Style)

October  2, 2011
0 Ratings
  • Serves 4-6 people
Author Notes

I'm a jersey girl through and through. I lived the first 18 years of my life there. Although, Ive lived in Montana for the past six years I have not forgotten what spectacular Italian food tastes like! For those of you who are not familar with New Jersey, almost everyone is Italian and if you're not you practically feel like you are, because everyone around you is. There are authentic mom and pop pizzerias on just about every corner and they actually sell pizza by the slice (IMAGINE THAT!?!) !! Italian foods are part of our culture. Everyone knows what manicotti, ziti, calimari, and gelato are. If you don't pronounce one of those words right, one of your Italian friends will not be ashamed to correct your pronunciation either. I am not Italian, but I secretly wish I was... Whenever I am home for a visit, I almost always have to get my favorite dish, Penne Vodka. Talk about heavenly... sweet, creamy, tangy...this sauce beats all in my book! So when I recently had some delicious Penne Vodka on a date night out with my boyfriend I was inspired to concoct my own version.... But heres the crazy catch, I wanted to make Penne Vodka without the Vodka. Weird, huh!?! Well, you see my boyfriend had never had it before and I wanted him to enjoy the magic of this dish. He doesn't consume any alcohol at all, not even in his food. Contrary to popular belief not all alcohol cooks or bakes off in many dishes. So I set out to come up with a semi- original recipe to give my man a little taste of New Jersey :) My recipe is mainly compiled from two recipes with a little dash or my own not-so-secret ingredients! The sauce is made of half red sauce and half white sauce with the alcohol substitution thrown in at the end. Special thanks to Marcella Hazan and lastnightsdinner for helping me create this.I found the vodka substitute on the alcohol substitute chart on So if you know someone who is allergic to alcohol, or can't consume it for medical or personal reasons, I suggest making them this delicious sauce. Or if you just want to experiment with it, because it sounds crazy, I invite you to give it a go as well! Enjoy it, but do me a favor, if you ever go to New Jersey or New York, order this dish at any fine Italian restaurant or pizzeria. It will be sure to please. If there are any leftovers, please send em' my way! —growinggourmand

What You'll Need
  • Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
  • 2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes; blanched or 2 cups canned itialian plum tomatoes cut up, with their juice
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onnion, peeled and cut in half
  • "The Easiest Alfredo Sauce Ever" + the extras
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup 1 freshly grated Parmagiano Reggiano cheese, plus additional for garnish
  • 1/3-1/2 cups white grape juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • freshly chopped basil (chiffonade), for garnish
  • splash of pasta water
  1. Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
  2. Put either the prepared fresh tomatoes or the canned in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato
  3. Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. While sauce is simmering move on to the "Easiest Alfredo Ever."
  4. Discard the onion and add salt and pepper to taste.
  1. "The Easiest Alfredo Sauce Ever" + the extras
  2. Melt the butter in the cream in a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, stirring or whisking often.
  3. When the butter is completely melted, add the cheese a little at a time, whisking or stirring after each addition
  4. Continue cooking until the sauce is reduced and thickened, about 20-25 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.
  5. When both sauces are completed, measure them out into equal amounts depending on how many people you are serving. Stir the equal amounts of red and white sauce together in one pot. Any extra red or white sauce will make a tasty leftover for another day.
  6. Add the red pepper flakes, white grape juice, and hint of lime juice for that tangy/spicy/sweet flavor that this sauce requires.
  7. Let the combined sauce with its new additions heat thoroughly and allow all the flavors to blend; about five minutes on medium heat.
  8. Toss the sauce with prepared penne pasta, or any pasta of your choosing. Also, be sure to mix in a splash of the starchy pasta water to bring it all together.
  9. Garnish with freshly chopped basil and some parmesan and DIG IN!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Bevi
  • growinggourmand
  • ashleychasesdinner
  • lapadia
  • hardlikearmour

34 Reviews

Bevi October 7, 2011
I made and froze a batch of Marcella's sauce yesterday, so it's great to be halfway to trying your amazing recipe!
growinggourmand October 7, 2011
Oh how wonderful!!! Isn't her sauce alone unbelievable?? !!! :) If you get to try it let me know how it turns out! Thanks a bunch!
growinggourmand October 6, 2011
@ boulangere- I can't say thank you enough ! :-)
boulangere October 6, 2011
And just so you all know, she'll be working on her own version of a stuffed chicken breast wrapped in BACON next week.
lovintobake October 5, 2011
I am Kristy's Mom, and, yes,we live in Jersey and, yes, we are so proud of her - what a great recipe - Kristy, do you think Marra's Restaurant would go for this? - I would say defintely. Thank you everyeone for the comments, and Chef, you are a great teacher!!
boulangere October 5, 2011
And lovintobake, you are magnificent parents of an amazing young woman! She is the first of my students to post an original recipe here on this wonderful website. None of us could be more proud.
growinggourmand October 6, 2011
Oh mom ! :) Youre so cute! Thanks a bunch.. This is fun huh?!?! :-D
ashleychasesdinner October 5, 2011
Thank you for sharing this fantastic recipe!! Love it!
growinggourmand October 6, 2011
your welcome! Hope you get to try it out sometime soon and then let me know what you think!
lapadia October 5, 2011
Your recipe is creative and sounds seriously delicious...Bravo!! Thanks so much for sharing it :)
lapadia October 5, 2011
Oh! PS...I am Italian but haven't been to New Jersey, sounds like my kind of place :)
growinggourmand October 6, 2011
Thanks for the positive feed back!!!
drymeat October 5, 2011
growinggourmand great job.
growinggourmand October 6, 2011
Thank you!
sospled October 5, 2011
The dish sounds amazing and knowing you I am even more positive it is. I can't wait to try it one of these nights. You are awesome
growinggourmand October 6, 2011
THANKS A BUNCH!! Which one of my classmates are you??
kdubu October 3, 2011
Hurrah for you, now may we have the recipe for the bacon wrapped chicken on the plate next to the pasta!
mrslarkin October 3, 2011
yes! I was thinking the same thing!! the pasta looks awesome gg.
boulangere October 3, 2011
Believe me mrsl., she's awesome!
growinggourmand October 5, 2011
I just realized this was you, Mrs. W.CUTE NAME! Ha ha no wonder why you asked me about this today :) The recipe for the chicken sure isn't mine... but it sure is delicious. The only suggestion I have is to make sure the mozzarella is fully stuffed inside cause it makes a mess on the grill.. or have some foil underneath! Enjoy...heres the site.. not sure how to make it a link :
growinggourmand October 5, 2011
apparently the link made it on its own. that was easy :)
boulangere October 8, 2011
mrsl, she'll be working on an original version of the chicken breast wrapped in BACON later this week. Trust, me, we'll love it.
growinggourmand October 3, 2011
Wow , to all :thanks for the encouragement! I'm so glad this will be helpful for some of you! This is so much fun and very exciting! If any of you try it out and have suggestions please let me know. I'm looking forward to posting my next recipe already!
hardlikearmour October 2, 2011
This sounds fabulous! I love vodka sauce, and your "non-vodka" version sounds like it's spot-on. Congrats on your first recipe submission!
boulangere October 3, 2011
hla, she worked on the flavor profile all by herself. I think she's found her calling in life.
growinggourmand October 6, 2011
Thank you very much for the compiments HLA ! Hope it brings a smile to your face and happiness to your palate and your tummy! :)
sexyLAMBCHOPx October 2, 2011
Looks like a great dish! I have friends that are in alcohol recovery that wont eat any foods made with alcohol. Glad to save this one!
boulangere October 3, 2011
sLx, she came up with the non-alcohol flavor profile of this all on her own. Great kudos to her!
growinggourmand October 6, 2011
That is so awesome to know that this recipe will help other people in similar predicaments. I hope that you and your friends enjoy it! Thank you thank you!
boulangere October 2, 2011
I had an email from one of my very good food52 friends wondering if you were one of my students. I explained that yes, and that you're also the first to post an original recipe here. Congratulations! Wonderful job!
boulangere October 3, 2011
Seriously, Kristy, we are all extremely proud of you!
growinggourmand October 2, 2011
Thanks Chef! The picture is posted!!!!!!!!!! I finally did it! :)
boulangere October 2, 2011
Ohhhhhhh my! I can practically taste it from your ingredients and beautiful description. Beautifully done, and I can't wait to see a photo!
lovintobake October 5, 2011
I am Kristy's Mom, and yes, we live in Jersey, and, yes, we are proud of you, Kristy! It sounds so delicious!! Thank you all for your encouraging comments and thank you, Chef, for being such a great teacher!