Vegan Penne Vodka

November  5, 2019
1 Ratings
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

"A staple in American Italian restaurants, and on my dinner table as well—who doesn’t love creamy tomato sauce? There is no reason to deprive yourself of it because, OMG, cashew cream is indistinguishable from heavy cream here! This will be your go-to recipe for impressing dates or dinner party guests or even yourself when you just wanna whip something up for a Sunday night Netflix session. I love using coconut oil to sauté the onions because it resembles butter a little more than olive oil does. I realize that coconut oil is soooo not Italian, but just trust me. I also prefer to slice the garlic, rather than mince it, because it gets fabulously caramelized and creates garlic-bite flavor bombs." —Republished with permission from I Can Cook Vegan by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, published by Abrams Books c 2019. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons refined coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup (35 grams) thinly sliced garlic
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 (25-ounce/710-gram) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vodka
  • 1 pound (455 grams) penne
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) whole unroasted cashews
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups (20 grams) sliced fresh basil leaves
  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts (3.8 L) of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
  2. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Melt the coconut oil in the pan and immediately add the garlic, flipping it often until lightly browned on both sides, about 2 minutes. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt, turn the heat up to medium, then mix everything together and sauté until the shallots are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure everything comes together. Add the salt, red pepper fakes, black pepper to taste, and the vodka. Bring to a steady simmer and allow the alcohol to cook out, 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, boil the penne according to package directions until al dente.
  4. Place the cashews and vegetable broth in a high-speed blender and blend for about a minute or until completely smooth, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides every 20 seconds or so.
  5. Add the cashew cream and half of the basil to the sauce (reserve the rest of the basil for garnish). Mix well.
  6. Use a slotted pasta spoon or large wire skimmer to fish the pasta out of the water and add it to the sauce. Continue to simmer until the pasta is fully cooked and the sauce is clinging to the penne, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve topped with the reserved fresh basil and freshly ground black pepper.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Molly Elwood
    Molly Elwood
  • Anon-E-Mouse

2 Reviews

Anon-E-Mouse April 4, 2020
Your cashew cream will blend up smoothly and end up creamier if you soak the cashews in hot water first. I chop the required amount roughly so the pieces are in thirds or quarters, then pour boiling water over them and let them sit in a bowl for 30 minutes. Then drain and rinse the cashews, add the stock and blend. Also, make at least a double batch of cashew cream because you'll find other uses for it!
Molly E. February 27, 2020
I made this last night for a dinner party and it was SO GOOD. The shallots added the perfect texture, and the sauce was so creamy and clung beautifully to the penne. We topped it with eggplant lardons (also from her book) and sauteed soy curls---AMAZING. Will definitely cook this again and again.