Penne alla vodka

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Penne alla vodka
Course Pasta
Place of origin Italy
Main ingredients Penne, vodka, cream, tomatoes, onions
Cookbook:Penne alla vodka  Penne alla vodka

Penne alla vodka is an Italian pasta dish always made with vodka and penne pasta, often made with heavy cream, crushed tomatoes, onions, and sometimes sausage or bacon.


The exact origins of penne alla vodka are unclear; there have been multiple claims to the invention of the dish. According to Pasquale Bruno, Jr., author of The Ultimate Pasta Cookbook, penne alla vodka was invented at Dante, a restaurant in Bologna, Italy.[1] Other historians of the culinary arts recognize James Doty, a graduate of Columbia University, as the inventor of penne alla vodka.[2]

Paula Franzese, an American law professor at Seton Hall University School of Law, has asserted that her father Luigi Franzese, born in Naples, Italy in 1931, devised the first version of penne alla vodka, which he allegedly called penne alla Russa because of the addition of the vodka to his tomato and cream sauce base. There is no evidence to support this claim.

The Williams Sonoma Essentials of Italian cookbook states that it was invented in the 1980s by a Roman chef for a vodka company that wanted to popularize its product in Italy.[3]


Penne alla Vodka

• 1 medium onion, finely chopped

• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

• 1/4 cup olive oil

• 1/4 pound prosciutto, chopped (optional, but very much recommended)

• 3/4 cup vodka

• 1 28-oz. can whole plum tomatoes

• 2 6-oz. cans tomato paste

• 1 quart heavy cream (or can use a combination of light and heavy cream)

• 1 small bunch of fresh basil, chopped

• 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped (optional)

• 1/2 stick butter

• 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

• salt and pepper to taste


Add the olive oil to a sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft.

Add prosciutto and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Slowly add vodka to the sauce pan and allow to cook off for approximately 5-6 minutes). WARNING: VODKA IS FLAMMABLE. ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN COOKING WITH ALCOHOL NEAR ANY HEAT SOURCE.

Rinse the plum tomatoes under water to remove seeds. Dice the plum tomatoes and add to sauce pan.

Stir the cream and tomato paste into the sauce pan and mix well.

Add chopped basil and (optional) tarragon to the sauce.

Add cheese and butter and simmer over low heat for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with cooked penne.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The ultimate pasta cookbook By Pasquale Bruno New York : Contemporary Books, 1997. ISBN 978-0-8092-3169-0
  2. ^ Famous Italian Recipes By Justin M. Rotundo-Shanes, Boston: G. Lee Press, 1981.
  3. ^ Essentials of Italian. Steve Seigelman. Williams Sonoma books, 2008.

External links[edit]