Smoky Pasta alla Vodka

February 21, 2017
Photo by Alexandra Stafford
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

  • Serves 4
  • 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)
In This Recipe
  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.

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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.