Smoky Pasta alla Vodka

February 21, 2017
5 Ratings
Photo by Alexandra Stafford
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Adapted from Colu Henry's Back Pocket Pasta.

'Nduja is a spicy, spreadable salami from Calabria. I found mine at Whole Foods. Eataly sells it, as does Amazon. Note from BPP: "For a meat-free dish, substitute straightforward red pepper flakes. You'll lose the smokiness of the dish, but it will still taste great."

If you can only find whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes or prefer using them to crushed, simply snip them with scissors after they enter the pan. I prefer the Pomi brand of tomatoes for both whole peeled and crushed tomatoes.

If you don't have oregano or parsley, don't worry—it's delicious without. —Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 pound pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 ounces 'nduja, optional (see notes)
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 28 ounces can crushed San Marzano tomatoes (or whole, see notes)
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grate Parmigiano Reggiano or Grano Padano, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped oregano (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley (see notes)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and return to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the package directions.
  2. While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce: Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the 'nduja (if using) and cook, stirring until it begins to melt, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the vodka to skillet and cook for 2 minutes more to reduce by half. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the cream, and cook 1 minute more.
  4. Add the pasta and grated cheese directly to the skillet and toss to coat.
  5. Plate in bowls and top with the oregano and parsley. Top with additional cheese and salt and pepper, if desired.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • the cooking foodie
    the cooking foodie
  • Alyas Karim
    Alyas Karim
  • Alexandra Stafford
    Alexandra Stafford
  • Lauren
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

7 Reviews

the C. April 17, 2017
love it!
Lauren March 15, 2017
I made a double batch of this delicious sauce -- one batch for pasta, one batch to be added to sauteed chickpeas and kale for a hearty stew -- delicious!
To make a vegetarian version, I used pimenton (smoked spanish paprika) instead of the 'nduja, with some extra olive oil. Also really delicious!
Ironwood C. March 13, 2017
Very good, but no 'njuda in my neck of the woods, so used Aleppo Red Pepper which gives a very mild smokiness and a bit of heat
Alexandra S. March 13, 2017
Nice substitution! Thanks for sharing. Sounds delicious.
Alyas K. March 6, 2017
Desta February 28, 2017
Made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! Such an easy and forgiving recipe. I think I'm going to buy Colu Henry's book--it's time to step my pasta game up!
Alexandra S. March 13, 2017
So happy to hear this! And YES to Back Pocket Pasta — it's such a good one!