Simple & Flavorful Farfalle alla Vodka

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This rich and creamy pasta dish features farfalle pasta in a super easy to make sauce, using mostly pantry items you already have on hand.

» You might like How to Make the Perfect Potato Gnocchi or Easy & Delicious Fava Bean Puree.

Easy Pantry Meal: Farfalle alla Vodka

During times like these, when you’re using up the cans of tomato sauce and pasta you have in the pantry, you’re going to need great tasting recipes like these to mix things up a bit.

This pasta dish was quite popular in the 70s, but it rarely even shows up on American Italian restaurant menus anymore. I say it’s time to bring this old-time favorite back.

Penne pasta is typically used for this recipe, but I personally really love farfalle. To be honest, it doesn’t matter all that much what type of pasta you use. Farfalle, penne, rigatoni, even fusilli! Just go with it. No matter what pasta you use, the sauce will coat it with luscious rich flavor and you won’t care what shape it’s in.

Ingredients for Farfalle alla Vodka

You’re going to need 2 cans of canned tomatoes, heavy cream, butter, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and the star of the show: vodka! I also like to top this pasta with some fresh Parmesan cheese, if you have it.

  • Farfalle pasta – This pasta is shaped like a bowtie. Penne pasta is typically used for this recipe, but I personally really love farfalle. You could use rigatoni, fusilli or whatever pasta you like.
  • Olive oil – Olive oil is widely used for it’s healthy fats. Olive oil is my cooking oil of choice, but you can use any other oil for this recipe. Canola oil works well too.
  • Garlic – Freshly cut cloves are best, but chopped garlic from the store will also work.
  • Red pepper flakes –  Add as many red pepper flakes as you like, as it brings the heat. If you don’t want it to be spicy, leave the red pepper out.
  • Tomatoes – We are using canned tomatoes here.
  • Vodka – The star of the show: vodka! It’s a very small amount and it mostly cooks off in the process.
  • Heavy cream – Thickens the sauce and adds a silky texture and rich flavor.
  • Butter – The butter adds a nice richness at the end of the cooking process and it helps to thicken the sauce.
  • Parmesan cheese – Parmesan cheese is a type of Italian cheese that has a hard texture. It usually comes in blocks. Parmesan cheese has a nutty yet fruity flavor and is very refreshing. Grate on top for garnish.

I actually think people stopped making this dish because vodka sounded like a weird ingredient to add to dinner, but don’t let that worry you. It’s a very small amount and it mostly cooks off in the process.

You can keep this pasta vegetarian. It’s a great Meatless Monday recipe. Or you can add some chicken or ground beef, if you want to add more protein.

farfalle alla vodka

How to Make Farfalle alla Vodka

Begin by cooking the pasta by following the directions on the package. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.

Start by adding extra virgin olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the crushed tomatoes and vodka to the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir in the heavy cream and simmer for another 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add the butter and stir.

Remove from heat and let stand for 3 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce and stir to coat.

Serve the pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Easy Pantry Meal: Farfalle alla Vodka

Tips for Farfalle alla Vodka

Although this recipe is truly simple to make, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. When you add the vodka, you need to allow the sauce to simmer for around 10 minutes to burn off all the alcohol. The vodka adds a lovely flavor profile to the sauce, but less so when it doesn’t cook off properly.
  2. Italians never leave the garlic in the dish. They flavor it with the garlic and then remove it from the pan. The choice is up to you if you leave it in or not.
  3. Butter is an important part of finishing the sauce. Don’t skip this step!
  4. Adding fresh grated Parmesan cheese to the top of the finished dish adds a ton of flavor and aromatics.
  5. We use crushed tomatoes for this sauce. However you can use chopped or whole canned tomatoes, as well. You will just need to puree the tomatoes with a stick blender or in a food processor before adding it to the sauce.
  6. Don’t allow the sauce to boil or the cream will break.

Questions About Farfalle alla Vodka

What does vodka do in farfalle alla vodka?

The vodka helps maintain a creamy smooth texture by allowing the tomato to meld with the cream. It acts as an emulsifier to keep the sauce from breaking. The alcohol reacts with the tomato and allows the tomato flavor to shine. If you don’t have vodka try substituting another neutral alcohol like gin.

Do I have to use alcohol?

You don’t have to use vodka if you either, don’t have it available or don’t drink alcohol. Add water and a squeeze of lemon.

Try one of our other pasta dishes:

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farfalle alla vodka

Farfalle alla Vodka

Farfalle pasta with a rich, creamy tomato vodka sauce.
4.97 from 26 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Pasta, Tomatoes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 497kcal
Author: Laura

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces uncooked farfalle pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 14 ounces can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/8 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions

  • Following the directions on the package, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.
  • While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. Start by adding extra virgin olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and vodka to the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes over medium-low heat.
  • Stir in the heavy cream and simmer for another 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add the butter and stir. Remove from heat and let stand for 3 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce and stir to coat.
  • Serve the pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Notes

  • We use crushed tomatoes for this sauce. However you can use chopped or whole canned tomatoes, as well. You will just need to puree the tomatoes with a stick blender or in a food processor before adding it to the sauce.
  • Don’t allow the sauce to boil or the cream will break.
  • If the sauce still has an aroma of alcohol after simmering for 10 minutes, continue to simmer until the alcohol aroma had dissipated.

Nutrition

Calories: 497kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 354mg | Potassium: 522mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 921IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 3mg

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Easy Pantry Meal: Farfalle alla Vodka

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