Penne alla Vodka with Pancetta

Penne alla Vodka with Pancetta

This is more an American-Italian recipe than an Italian-American one. We came across this dish on our travels to Canada and America and fell in love with it. It is very simple to make and we love the creaminess of the dish. We like the sauce a little feisty, so we’re generous with the chilli flakes/Peperoncino. You can add as much — or as little — as you like. The crispy pancetta adds that extra texture and flavour.


Serves 4-6

  • 500g penne pasta
  • 1 large white onion finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Handful fresh basil leaves finely chopped
  • Chilli flakes/Peperoncino
  • 125ml Vodka
  • 100g grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 500ml tomato passata
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 200ml double/heavy cream


Add the olive to a large skillet pan add the onions over medium heat and cook until soft. Then add the chilli flakes and garlic and cook until garlic is golden. Pour in the vodka and reduce for a further 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour in the tomato passata and tomato puree, stir the mixture until it’s thoroughly combined, add the basil, then reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer for 15/20 minutes. Now it’s time to add the double/heavy cream. Stir to combine and leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a frying pan add the pancetta and fry until crisp, around 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente; drain.

Pour the drained pasta into the sauce and toss to combine. Sprinkle on the Parmigiano Reggiano and extra basil and mix together well. Add the crispy pancetta on top and serve… Buon Appetito.

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