This is penne a la vodka at it’s best – a vodka-infused sauce with a hint of cream for indulgence, with peas mixed in for a bit of health in every bite.
penne a la vodka

Every so often, I cave and cook something that I know the.boy will love.

And by “every so often” I mean twice a year – Valentine’s Day and his birthday.

The rest of the time, it’s The Joanne Show around these parts, although you should take into consideration that I sacrificed my brussels sprouts consumption this year for his taste buds, which was HUGE on my part. HUGE.


I’m so selfless sometimes that it hurts.



The.Boy lived on pasta with jarred tomato sauce before we moved in together, and I’m pretty sure he could have gone on doing so, fairly contentedly, ever and anon.

And then I came along with my passion for vegetables, organic, local, from-scratch eating, and things would never be the same again.

So this is kind of a throwback to his bachelor lifestyle, except a MAJOR step up because it is filled with vodka, a touch of cream, and fire-roasted tomatoes.

You won’t find anything close in any jar that I know of.

And peas.

Because, even though this meal is supposedly for him, it is really still The Joanne Show. Just being honest.


One year ago…Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Bourbon Cinnamon Buttercream

Two years ago…Bok Choy and Baked Tofu Stir Fry in Citrus-Ginger Sauce, Chocolate Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Three years ago…Roasted Chicken with Salsa Verde, Whipped Parsnips and Cauliflower with Goat Cheese

Four years ago…Orzotto with Leeks and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Five years ago…Sausage and Peppers Pizza

Penne a la Vodka
This is penne a la vodka at it's best - a vodka-infused sauce with a hint of cream for indulgence, with peas mixed in for a bit of health in every bite.
Yield: 6 servings
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 32 oz canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb penne
  • Β½ cup heavy cream
  • 20 leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb frozen peas
  1. Set salted water to boil for cooking pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add in the garlic, shallots, and a pinch of salt, sautΓ©ing for about 3 minutes, or until shallots are starting to caramelize. Add the vodka to the pot and and reduce it by half, simmering for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let simmer while the pasta cooks.
  3. Once the pasta water is boiling, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Pour the frozen peas into the colander that you will strain the pasta is. Once the pasta is cooked, strain it, pouring the boiling water over the peas to cook them.
  4. Stir the cream and basil into the sauce. Toss the sauce with the pasta and peas, and serve.
Adapted from The Food Network
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙th of recipe


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79 Responses to Penne a la Vodka

  1. Beth says:

    A perfect compromise, Joanne!

  2. Johanna GGG says:

    what is it with boys and a packet of pasta and a jar of sauce – better than just crisps and a mars bar I guess! I made pasta with vodka years ago when I was first blogging but never revisited it – you see I didn’t add peas but the idea of a little green in my pasta is enticing πŸ™‚

  3. Matt loves penne with vodka sauce but I’ve never indulged him, must try this!

  4. Love the addition of the peas and I’m positive your selflessness did not go unnoticed.

  5. I’ve been cooking ground turkey and chicken for my guy, even though I don’t eat them. It’s a little annoying but it makes him happy so….shrug. He actually used to be a good cook when he was single, but now that I make everything, all he can manage is a smoothie. Which is part of my evil plan to make him dependent on me for food. Cackle cackle cackle.
    Jarred pasta sauces are so often disappointing, this is something that we would love. Might even make a huge batch and freeze some.

  6. I know!! I had to make sausage biscuits and gravy, something he loves. No veggies in that dish! gah! I’m glad you sneaked some peas in πŸ˜‰ looks delish

  7. Teffy says:

    You had me at vodka!
    Sounds so cool, I’ve never thought to add the spirit to my cooking before! Must give it such a good kick! X

  8. Kathryn says:

    I’ve often wondered about penne alla vodka – it’s not something that you ever see on menus over here and it sounds so intriguing! Can’t wait to give this a go.

  9. Monica says:

    Looks wonderful – The.boy must have been very happy! : ) I enjoy penne a la vodka but never made it at home…this is an excellent recipe to do it with.

  10. Did someone say vodka?!?

    I hijacked V-Day just like I do every other meal of the year. Call me selfish but I insist the boy doesn’t get scurvy (which he would if I didn’t feed him!)

  11. debbie says:

    One of my son’s favorites! I need to make this more often!

  12. Haha! Vday and his birthday – that’s when I cook my guy his favorites too πŸ™‚ This penne pasta looks so great Joann! And I love the addition of peas – I think they always taste great in pasta

  13. Love how you came up with a homemade healthier version of The.boy’s favorite dish!

  14. christina says:

    Yum, what a nice twist! Pinned πŸ™‚

  15. Megan says:

    This sounds wonderful. Hope you guys had a nice V-day! I often wonder what Jeff would be eating right now if he’d never met me. As it is, he usually gets by on scrambled eggs and grilled cheese (that he makes what he calls “the lazy way” in the toaster oven) when I’m not around to cook.

  16. I would love to watch “The Joanne Show”…definitely think it should be pitched to the Food Network – this killer penne could be your pilot show! πŸ™‚

  17. To true! I am always cooking things that I want and there’s just a few times that I actually cook something geared specifically to the hubs. This looks so good!

  18. Jessie says:

    Good thing you came along! This is miles better than any pasta-with-jarred sauce combo, in every way. I think you spoil him πŸ˜‰

    Also, I would watch The Joanne Show anytime. When is that coming to network TV??

  19. Ah! This is what you were talking about! I do love vodka sauce… and this dish looks fabulous! Oh, and thanks for adding in peas… oddly, they’re my favorite veggie. One of them. And penne with vodka sauce just isn’t the same without them.

  20. Ha Ha! I love that, Joannes Show around here! That’s how it is in my house. Your pasta looks just amazing. I have been so craving pasta lately! Bookmarking you recipe!

  21. Lynn says:

    My stomach just rumbled out loud looking at that. πŸ™‚ I like that – The Joanne Show. πŸ™‚

  22. I love penne with vodka sauce! Yours looks so good with green peas.

  23. It is the “You Won’t Be Single For Long” sauce! I made that, too, long time ago, but yeah, it was great!! Yum!

  24. P says:

    He is seriously a lucky guy to have you cook all these wonderful meals. The peas add a nice touch, and a lovely splash needed green :P!

  25. Doesn’t the.boy like brussel sprouts?? :O Grand, I’ll take his part!
    This pasta dish looks amazing, and I love how you added peas. This stuff needs to be my dinner soon ;–)

  26. How sweet of you to cook something specifically for The Boy! πŸ™‚ Looks wonderful.

  27. Pasta and booze on a Monday?! This is why we are friends:)

  28. Great Joanne! We love this and make it very similar with the peas too! I am sure his Valentine and Birthday were both wonderful!

  29. Pam says:

    I am sure The.Boy loved this dish – it looks so tasty!

  30. Erika says:

    Boozy Pasta.. I can get down with that… I will definitely be whipping this up.. and there’s some incredible goodness on The Joanne Show so I’ll keep tuning in.. πŸ™‚

  31. Julia says:

    Ohhhhh vodka! How I want vodka all up in my creamy, tomato-y pasta! This looks amazing – the perfect romantic meal for V Day or a b day! I could do some serious face planting into a bowl of this pasta. Hope you had a stellar V Day and weekend, lady!

  32. I feel like pasta is a must for valentine’s day! I love penne a la vodka, and I’m definitely going to try it with fire-roasted tomatoes next time!

  33. cheri says:

    I think it’s a good to establish your own show early on. Good looking pasta dish!

  34. Vodka and pasta in one dish? This sounds like it’s made for me, too! I love The Joanne Show.

  35. Oooh, yum! I would love to cuddle up with a gigantic bowl of this with some crusty bread to sop up all your extra delicious sauce!

  36. This looks delicious! I’ve been super craving peas lately for some reason.
    PS I’m so lucky that Josh likes Brussels! I can’t imagine having to reduce my consumption in any way.

  37. That sauce is pure heaven! And I love that you added peas. So yummy!

  38. This sounds so good, would love a nice big forkful.

  39. danielle says:

    Definitely one of my favorite pasta dishes.

  40. Kate says:

    We had penne a la vodka 2 weeks ago! Right before I got sick. Our Valentine’s Day was a reversal – because my guy cooked for me! But we still had pasta, which is obviously the food of love.

  41. Foodiewife says:

    The Joanne show…that’s funny. That’s what my husband says. I’ll ask him what he wants for dinner. His answer usually is, “whatever you are craving”. Ha! Love Vodka penne, but the fire roasted tomatoes and peas are a nice addition. As for bachelor meals, on the rare nights I don’t cook for him, he grazes– on potato chips and beer and a big spoonful of peanut butter. Men. He knows things are much better for him, now that I’m the chief cook. He’s the bottle washer. Smart guy!

  42. SallyBR says:

    Made vodka sauce over two years ago and never again… as my beloved would testify (and The Boy might agree with him), the problem of living with a food blogger is that even the tastiest recipes are never repeated… or almost never. Methinks they might complain too much about us bloggers who are creatures without a single selfish gene. HA!

  43. Perfect compromise! Love everything about this recipe.

  44. Eileen says:

    Such beautiful & simple pasta. Hooray for the Joanne show! This made the theme to the original 1950s Alvin & the chipmunks show–which of course was called The Alvin Show–start running through my head. Why do I know this? An excellent question. πŸ™‚

  45. That boy is so lucky to have you. I still force brussels sprouts on the husband. πŸ™‚ He’d loooove this pasta, though!

  46. Trisha says:

    I think I ate my weight in penne a la vodka at a wedding this weekend yet crazily this still looks really good to me. I have a problem with pasta. Love the addition of peas!

  47. haha! I love the Joanne show! Keep it comin’! He’ll realize he’s the luckiest man in the world to marry a cook like you one day soon! πŸ™‚

  48. I know I shouldn’t read my favorite blogs when I’m hungry…

  49. Claudia says:

    We’ll keep tuned in to the Joanne show. Too funny, I cooked Brussels sprouts for Bob for his Valentine’s Day veg, the other time of the year I fix them is his Birthday. And tonight it’s black spaghetti with creamy vodka sauce and chicken. Good idea!

  50. ramblingtart says:

    You are lovely to go to so much trouble to recreate his favorite foods in a healthy way. πŸ™‚

  51. Dino is the one who makes penne a la vodka in my house, but I love this spin on it! Maybe I’ll surprise him with a batch of this goodness one day. Yum!!

  52. Perfect classic pasta meal! Making me all kinds of hungry…

  53. hahahaaa! what a sweet fiance’ you are πŸ˜› LOVE this vodka sauce!!

  54. This is the perfect meal! I love peas in pasta. And the sauce sounds amazing!

  55. This is some serious food porn over here. It looks amazingggg!!!!

  56. Haha I love that you added peas! I would totally do the same, and I am trying so hard to make my guy love brussels sprouts but that is a hopeless battle. I’ve never made vodka pasta but it’s been on my list of meals to try for a while!

  57. Blond Duck says:

    I hope you had a great weekend!

  58. This is worth a try! And maybe the use of gin as a variation?

  59. I’d say it’s a perfect set up for a great ever-lasting marriage. I mean, if he’s willing to eat all your food now, you’re set. And peas FTW. Always.

  60. Von says:

    Did he enjoy it a lot more than the jarred stuff he used to have?? I love the sound of vodka infused sauce haha….the pasta looks amazing!!

  61. Love Penne a la Vodka. I bet he was happy with this dinner!

  62. I suspect he knows, secretly, that The Joanne Show is the better show to be on. I’m sure he appreciated this gourmet throwback to his old food patterns though πŸ™‚

  63. Katerina says:

    I am sure he appreciates the fact that an above average meal expects him upon his return! This pasta is super delicious and certainly has nothing to do with the jarred one!

  64. Hotly Spiced says:

    I’m sure he’s so happy to have been lifted from his jarred sauce pasta to your creative and inspired cooking (but he probably keeps a lot of that to himself). I love the look of your vodka pasta. My daughter has a few bottles – I’m sure I could sneak a nip or two to make this! xx

  65. Christine says:

    You’re so funny! Seriously. Love this post. πŸ™‚

  66. One of my favorite classic Italian dishes. You certainly have brought your A-Game to this one! Can’t wait to give it a try.

  67. A great idea adding the peas! We could all use some extra veggies even in a decadent sauce. YUM!

  68. Mmm vodka sauce sounds awesome πŸ˜€
    Decadent and delicious!

    Choc Chip Uru

  69. Reeni says:

    I bet he did a little happy dance! I know I am! I love how you snuck in all those peas! Proving it really is the Joanne show! πŸ˜‰

  70. cassie says:

    This is the perfect meal for someone you love. I rarely make meals twice but we have a few that are favorites! Love this one.

  71. grace says:

    i love you for putting peas in this, joanne. they fit seamlessly into so many dishes!

  72. Shannon says:

    hehe, still the joanne show πŸ˜‰ at least you threw him a bone with the pasta and sauce! not to mention the vodka…

  73. Oooo. I love the touch of using fire roasted tomatoes, and you can’t go wrong with peas here.

  74. Jenna says:

    Another one I’ll put on our menu plan. Thanks again!

  75. Roz says:

    Love the addition of ‘fire-roasted’ tomatoes for that extra flavor. And I’ve never thought of adding peas to Penne a la Vodka. Since my guy likes peas too, I’m sure he’d be just as giddy as ‘the.boy’!

  76. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    This dish looks so delicious, I love vodka sauce and that you added the peas to it πŸ™‚ can’t wait to try!

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