Cooking To Impress: Penne a la Vodka

OK guys! Ben made this meal for us this week and I must say it is DELICIOUS! Everyone raved about it.  The only thing I have to add is that, being on the dreaded New Year’s Diet, I had this sauce served over fresh spinach.  It was perfect!  You could also use a gluten free pasta to accommodate other dietary needs.  Super job Ben! So glad to have you on board.  I look forward to your other recipes!


When Leah asked me if I wanted to contribute to her blog regularly, I was excited as an employee and a friend but especially as a passionate journalism student who really loves food.  Writing experience and enthusiasm aside though, I didn’t feel I had much to offer compared to Leah and her culinary expertise.

Leah has years of experience in the kitchen, is tremendously creative, and loves to cook for her friends.  I’ve only been out of the house for six years (two of which I ate mediocre dorm food), absolutely hate doing dishes, and I fear new recipes and cooking techniques.  But like Leah, I absolutely love to feed my friends – especially my girlfriend, Anna.

Without further ado, I introduce my contribution to Leah’s table: a guide to easy meals for bachelors, boyfriends and husbands alike who just want to impress their favorite girl.


The first time I met Anna, we helped a mutual friend finish making dinner for a party.  And once she agreed to a third date, I decided to make her dinner.

Penne á la Vodka (serves 4-6)

7 tablespoons butter

¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

¾ cup vodka

2 cups crushed tomatoes (I have been known to use them from a can.  We’re keeping it simple, Leah!)

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon seasoned salt (I use Tony’s – on everything)

1 pound penne pasta, cooked

4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese

8 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Melt the butter in a large skillet and then stir in pepper flakes and vodka.  If you’re having sinus problems, I suggest you lean over the skillet.  The vodka will clear that right up.

PenVod - Pancetta

(I used some pancetta as well because Anna and Leah both want everything to be salty.)

After about two minutes, stir in the tomatoes and cream.  Let that simmer for five minutes while you mix them together.

PenVod - Sauce

Add seasoned salt and then stir in pasta.  Add Parmesan until you like the consistency (I use a lot because Anna likes it to stick together).  Toss with basil and serve immediately.

PenVod - FINAL2

This recipe has a lot of room for error.  You don’t need to simmer for exact times or use perfect measurements in order to get the desired result.  Boiling pasta is similarly forgiving and the end result is far more impressive than the level of difficulty.  I’m still convinced this recipe is the reason Anna agrees to be seen in public with me.

Penne a la Vodka - FINAL

Good luck!

One thought on “Cooking To Impress: Penne a la Vodka

  1. Pingback: Cooking to Impress: Chicken with Goat Cheese | To Taste

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s