Vodka Sauce Pasta (Pasta Party!)

Nothing says “special dinner” more than vodka sauce pasta! The creamy sauce is simmered with garlic and basil, served over rigatoni with lots of Parmesan.

Vodka Sauce Pasta

This post was created in partnership with DeLallo. All opinions are our own.

Twinkle lights, crisp rose and vodka sauce pasta. Excuse us while we sigh in nostalgia! This long-simmered sauce will shoot you to Italian grandmother status in no time. We created this recipe in honor of our favorite Italian brand, Delallo, who just launched their new line of pasta. To celebrate, we threw a sweet Italian-themed “pasta party” and invited some of our favorite women entrepreneurs working in food in our city. It was the most special evening! We want to show you how to recreate this simple Italian dinner party to enjoy good food and good people. Ready?

Italian pasta party

An Italian dinner party menu

This Italian dinner party menu is all about simplicity! While the vodka sauce pasta takes about 1 hour to simmer, it’s mostly hands off! You can put it on the stove and let it simmer while you make the rest of the recipes and preparations. It’s truly all about the goodness of simple, high quality ingredients. We used a bunch of Delallo products to put together the menu: we love them because they are truly best in class. Trust us, we’re obsessed with Italian recipes and this Italian family business has it nailed.

Here’s our simple Italian dinner party menu:

*We created this custom box for Delallo based on our latest Italy trip! You could also buy these ingredients separately: we used the Olive Bruschetta, Artichoke Bruschetta, Grilled Artichokes (our favorite!), Castelvetrano Olives, Parmesan Cheese Wedge, Sliced Prosciutto, and Pistachios.

Italian dinner party
Delallo pasta

Tips on how to make vodka sauce pasta

Want the secret to Italian grandmother style vodka sauce pasta? Simmer the sauce. For 1 hour! You won’t see a lot of 1 hour simmers here on A Couple Cooks. Because our core passion is fast and easy dinner recipes. But guess what? Even more than fast and easy, we’re obsessed with flavor. This vodka sauce pasta is so seriously full of flavor, it’s worth every second of that simmer. And what says “you’re special” more than a 1 hour simmered pasta?

Here’s another secret. Because this pasta sauce is mostly hands-off, it’s actually an easy recipe. Here are some tips on how to make vodka sauce pasta:

  • The only thing you’ll need to cut is garlic! If you need to brush up on your knife skills, here’s How to Mince Garlic.
  • Use quality vodka: and don’t worry! It’s safe for kids. You’ll want to use the good stuff here! Don’t worry, the alcohol cooks away, leaving a tangy back-end flavor.
  • Simmer with a halved onion. To get onion flavor without onion in the sauce, you’ll simply simmer the sauce with a halved onion: then remove it after the simmer.
  • Fresh basil is a must. Trust us. The Italians know best!
  • Blend, then melt in the Parmesan cheese (not cream). Some vodka sauces use heavy cream, but the Parmesan carries the show here.
Vodka sauce pasta
Delallo pasta
Tomato can vases: dinner party idea

Pasta party prep tips

Now, dinner parties aren’t just about recipes: they’re about setting a beautiful table too! Luckily I had Alex to help me and he thought of some really fun decoration ideas. Here’s what we did to make a lovely setting for our vodka sauce pasta with friends:

  • Use tomato cans as vases! The most fun idea for reuse: save your tomato cans and use them as vases! Here we filled them with flowers from our yard.
  • Add a simple white table runner and candles. Besides this, our only decoration was a simple white table runner down the center of our table, and some white candles as a centerpiece.
  • Ball jar drinking glasses make a nice touch. These blue Ball jars are our everyday glasses, but the color makes a nice pop for a tablescape.
  • Twinkle lights are a must. All we know is that all food tastes better under twinkle lights! Unless it’s not outside dining weather, in which case you can make it up with more candles.

Here’s how we phased out our party prep. Alex and I did all the table decor first, then made the vodka sauce. We let that simmer while we prepared the salad and got together the cheese plate and appetizers. The pasta portion of the vodka sauce pasta I boiled up right after guests arrived: that way the pasta would be perfectly hot and al dente.

Pasta party
Italian dinner party
Cheers

Our party guests

For our Italian dinner party, we wanted to enjoy Delallo’s new pasta with our vodka sauce pasta and give a little thank you to some women entrepreneurs working in food in Indy. These women are part of the Indy Women in Food organization that works to connect women business owners in Indianapolis to empower them and encourage collaboration. These dear friends of ours are working hard to make our city’s food scene and beyond a better, more equitable place. This dream team helps us run the DiverseCITY Panel Series, a conversation about women, diversity and inclusion, and food. Make sure follow along with these incredible women and their stories:

  • Tanorria Askew, personal chef and MasterChef finalist: Website| Instagram
  • Candace Boyd Wylie, food blogger and spice brand owner: Website | Instagram
  • Ashley Brooks, culinary consultant and founder of Garfield Park Farmer’s Market: Instagram
  • Lauren McDuffie, cookbook author, food blogger & photographer: Website | Instagram
Dinner party guests

Looking for pasta recipes?

Want a few other options that work great for pasta parties? Try our friend Erin’s Chicken Pesto Pasta, our Best Gouda Mac and Cheese (makes a huge pan), or Mushroom Pasta with Goat Cheese (a fan favorite).

This vodka sauce pasta recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

Print
Vodka Sauce Pasta

Vodka Sauce Pasta


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 1x

Description

Nothing says “special dinner” more than vodka sauce pasta! The creamy sauce is simmered with garlic and basil, served over rigatoni with lots of Parmesan.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Delallo rigatoni pasta (or short pasta or your choice)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (or best quality crushed tomatoes)
  • 1/3 cup high-quality vodka
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 large basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

Instructions

  1. Mince the garlic.
  2. Melt the butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, vodka, oregano, red pepper flakes, and kosher salt. Stir to combine. Add the halved onion and simmer for 1 hour with the lid tilted, stirring occasionally.
  3. After the simmering time, remove the onion. Transfer the sauce to a blender, or use an immersion blender to blend the sauce. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until it melts.
  4. Meanwhile, boil heavily salted water in a large pot. Cook the pasta to al dente (see the section above). When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot. Combine it with the vodka sauce. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese and torn fresh basil leaves.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Vodka Sauce, Vodka Sauce Pasta, Pasta Recipe, Vegetarian Pasta,

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

1 Comment

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    [email protected]
    October 17, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    BE RIGHT OVER. This looks amazing!!

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