Date Night MOCK Vodka Sauce (Jersey Style)

October  2, 2011
0 Ratings
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

  • Serves 4-6 people
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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