Penne with Tomato Vodka Sauce

The weekend is fast approaching and you need a meal that feeds the family, tastes good and doesn’t require tons of prep or time in the kitchen. Luckily for you, I’ve got the perfect meal! My Penne Pasta with Tomato Vodka Sauce!

Vodka in My Sauce?

Yes, you’re going to put a wee bit of vodka in this sauce, and I promise that you’re going to love it. And because you’re cooking it, you’ll be burning off the alcohol, so no worries, it’s not going to get anyone intoxicated. So yes, you can feed it to your kids.

Do I Have to Use Penne?

I know that some of you are partial to a certain type of pasta. Maybe you like those cute little wagon wheels or orzo and I get it, those are adorable and yummy. And yes, usually you can swap the style of pasta pretty easily without making it a big deal. My advice is to try and keep it kind of similar. Let me explain a bit. This recipe uses penne because it has a lot of space for the sauce to collect and stick to. That means every bite you get will be saucy and awesome. So a replacement here should be something similar – plenty of surface area and maybe with a hole. Good choices would be rigatoni or fusilli.

Penne Pasta with Tomato Vodka Sauce |

Should I Mix it All Together?

Yes. Always. Funny story. When I was a kid my mom made spaghetti a lot because it was my brother’s favorite food. She ALWAYS served it with the plain spaghetti noodles on the bottom and the sauce on top. I never had pasta mixed together until I met my husband! Who, ironically, had never had pasta where the sauce WASN’T mixed together! Funny, right? At first I protested to this, telling him that’s not the right way. But, turns out, his way was indeed right. From my knowledge, the great pasta dishes are all mixed together before serving. Why? Because it tastes better! Trust me!

Now You Make It!

Okay, it’s your turn. Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think! It’s easy and I’m pretty sure you’ll love it! Looking for a salad to enjoy with it? How about my Arugula Salad? Or even a simple mix of lettuces topped with some cherry tomatoes and a balsamic vinaigrette would be lovely! Bon Appetit friends!


clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Penne Pasta with Tomato Vodka Sauce |

Penne Pasta with Tomato Vodka Sauce

  • Author: Sara Haas
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh basil, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 links Italian turkey sausage, mild or hot
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 8 oz chopped, frozen spinach (or about 1 pound fresh baby spinach)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 1/8 teaspoon (or more) crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound whole grain penne pasta
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, room temp
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish


  1. Place the tomatoes and basil in a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Fill a pot with water and add salt. Set over high heat and bring to a boil while you prep the sauce. 
  3. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Remove the sausage from its casings and cook, stirring to crumble, until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Next stir in the bell peppers and onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and stir, cooking until most of the water has evaporated, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. 
  4. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring continuously until it turns a deep red color, about 5 minutes. Add the vodka and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping the bottom to pull up any browned bits. Next add the pureed tomatoes and the crushed red pepper. Let simmer while you cook the pasta. 
  5. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving about ¼ cup of the pasta liquid. 
  6. Stir the cream into the tomato sauce then add the cooked pasta and cheese. Mix in a little of the reserved pasta water for a little extra creaminess. Garnish with any extra basil or cheese.
  • Prep Time: 10 mintues
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: pasta, dinner, quick dinner recipe, dinner in 30 minutes