Say arrivederci to the heavy cream and aloha to Greek yogurt. I love penne alla vodka. I know, not the most truly Italian dish. Once could argue it’s like saying my favorite Chinese food is orange chicken. That being said, true to Carmel Kama’aina form, this good little Italian has found a slightly more gilt free way to prepare this dish. Also, if you’re into conspiracy theories, flick down to the “what can I learn” section to dive into the web of competing vodka sauce origin stories.
- 1 tbs cooking oil (I used avocado)
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 tbs vodka (can be cheap)
- 14 oz canned tomato puree
- 1/8 tsp red chili flakes (+ more to taste)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 package of pasta
- 1/3 cup nonfat greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup parmesan, grated (+ more for sprinkling)
- Heaping handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
- Do your prep first. Mince the shallot and garlic. Chop your basil.
- Heat a large pot on medium-low. Sauté shallots until they start to turn translucent (~5 min). Add garlic, and sauté for another minute. Should start to smell great!
- Turn heat down and add in vodka. It might sizzle (thus the turning down of heat) so be careful. Cook for one minute, then add the tomato puree and red chili flakes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Let sauce simmer for 25 minutes. While simmering, move to pasta and start boiling water. I made penne, so I needed the full time, but if you’re making a faster cooking noodle like angel hair, you can wait a bit.
- After 25 minutes, turn off the sauce burner. Stir in greek yogurt and cheese. Taste your sauce, and add additional salt, pepper, and red chili flakes to taste. Mix with noodles and enjoy! I added the basil to each bowl individually.
What am I listening to as I make this? “Sedona” by Houndmouth
What can I learn while I make this? The twisted world of penne alla vodka’s origins. Specifically, the “alla vodka” part. Some Internet vocalists insist this was created in New York City and is not truly Italian in the slightest (thus my orange chicken joke above). Ask an Italian, they will say, of this dish. The Italy native won’t have heard of it. Others insist this is an Italian dish, but a relatively recent one, spearheaded in Bologna by vodka companies pushing their products. Another theory is this was pioneered by late night restaurants after people returned from the “discotheque” (if that doesn’t age something to the 1970s- the only part of the origin story all do agree on- I don’t know what does). I think, perhaps, a semblance of all could be true. What do you think?
What if I want pasta but maybe not this one? Don’t worry, I won’t be offended. Check out a few more below:
Want more Carmel Kama’aina content? Follow me on Instagram. All my latest recipes and behind the scenes tricks are published first on Instagram. Check out this recipe on Instagram, below: