In the late 70s into the early 80s, there was Disco -- and there was Penne Alla Vodka, everywhere. While the music genre has long since disappeared, the pasta classic is now new again, featured in many restaurants, and in our own kitchens. The pink-orange sauce is super simple to make and notable for its generous splash of vodka that emulsifies the cream with the tomatoes to boost flavour and circulate that distinctive aroma.  

1 package (450g) penne rigate
cup finely chopped onion
2 tbsp Garlic EVOO
1 large can San Marzano plum tomatoes 
2 tbsp whipping cream
1/2 cup vodka (more if desired)
1/4 cup Butter EVOO 
1/2 tsp Kosher salt 
Fresh basil leaves (optional)

Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


Prepare pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, on medium-low heat, in a skillet, place Garlic EVOO, onion and salt. Cook until onion is soft and barely golden, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and juice, breaking them apart by hand. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add cream, basil leaves if using, and remove from heat.

Drain pasta and return to cooking pot. Add vodka, Butter EVOO and salt to taste. Stir, then add tomato mixture and mix until pasta is coated. Add tomato mixture, and mix until pasta is coated. Transfer pasta to bowls and garnish with Parmesan and drizzles of extra virgin olive oil.