A sauce of canned tomatoes tempered with cream is a no brainer for pasta. This recipe, however, which became popular in the 1960s, adds a healthy slug of vodka to the mix. It doesn’t survive the deglazing and cooking, don’t worry (your kids—and you—won’t feel tipsy), but it does add some of the richness and complexity that any spirit (brandy, for instance) that characterizes many dishes.
1. Seared Scallops with Lemon and Vodka
Deglazing the pan you sautéed scallops in with vodka is a bold and beautiful way to get maximum flavor. Lemon, cream, and a whole lot of tarragon finish a delicate dish that’s delicious as is or tossed with pasta. Get our Seared Scallops with Lemon and Vodka recipe.
2. Angel Hair Pasta with Spicy Vodka Sauce
Scraping up the pan residue with vodka adds deepened flavor here, in this spicy, oregano-scented pasta dish. The results aren’t boozy—what you get is a tomato-y sauce with a kick! Get our Angel Hair Pasta with Spicy Vodka Sauce recipe.
3. Linguine with Clams and Chorizo
For a fun twist that’s not quite as costly as steak and scampi, pair spicy Mexican chorizo and clams, serve it tossed with pasta, and consider it surf ’n’ turf for the weeknight schedule. The vodka adds warmth and character. Get our Linguine with Clams and Chorizo recipe.
4. Penne Alla Vodka Sauce
“Growing up,” writes Kary Osmond, “penne alla vodka was my favourite pasta dish to order. Penna alla vodka sauce is not too rich, like an alfredo sauce, and not too sweet, like a marinara sauce—it’s a perfect balance between the two.” Get Kary Osmond’s Penne Alla Vodka Sauce recipe.
5. Classic Penne Alla Vodka
Was it vodka importers who made this dish a thing? Regardless, writes Saveur, “whether or not this dish of tube-shaped penne pasta lavished with a peppery, vodka-laced cream and tomato sauce was created in Italy is a matter of heated debate in some quarters.” Meanwhile, we just love eating it. Get Saveur’s Classic Penne Alla Vodka recipe.
6. Penne with Vodka Sauce
“If the thought of vodka in your pasta puts you off, don’t worry,” writes The Live-In Kitchen’s Lindsay Moe. “The alcohol simmers off leaving just the flavor behind.” Get The Live-In Kitchen’s Penne with Vodka Sauce recipe.
7. Spaghetti with Vodka Sauce
Spaghetti is a gentle twist on the classic penne in this recipe. What’s more, ricotta is a less caloric alternative to heavy cream, making this a lovely and simple weeknight dinner with flair. Get One Sweet Mess’s Spaghetti with Vodka Sauce recipe.