Penne Alla Vodka Sauce….

Well Happy Thursday Everyone!!

I know its been a while since my last post but what can I say it has been a very busy February.  While I don’t have any new recipes to share quite yet I though it would be nice to share with you what I’m making for dinner tonight.  Tonight I’m making one of my most favorite pasta dishes Penne Alla Vodka Sauce.  I just put the sauce in the oven to cook and thought why not re-share this great recipe that is perfect for a cool (or cold depending on where you live!) February night.


What are you making for dinner tonight???

Penne Alla Vodka Sauce

I saw this recipe on the Food Network show Barefoot Contessa several years ago and it simply made my mouth water. I knew I had to give this recipe a try and it has been one of my favorite pasta sauce recipes ever since. I would love to tell you that I changed up several things in this recipe to make it all my own but I can’t. This recipe for Nick and Toni’s Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola is so good there is almost nothing that you can do to make it better. It’s just about perfect!

I did say “almost” though…   this is completely optional but my little add in is just a little bit of bacon! The bacon adds a little bit of salty, crunchy, meatiness, which is just divine with the velvety, creamy tomato sauce. Besides is there anything that bacon doesn’t make better?

Truly though this pasta dish has everything that I love, Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes, Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, Heavy Cream, Tomatoes, and Vodka.   Add a little bacon to the mix and I promise you will make this recipe time and time again.

This Vodka Sauce recipe is super easy but it does take a little time because it has to roast in the oven for 1½ hours. By roasting the tomato sauce for 1 1/2 hours you get this intense, thick, and slightly caramelized flavor to the sauce. Then you add in the heavy cream, the cheese, and the crispy bacon…. and what you are left with will knock your socks off!



Nick and Toni’s Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola 

From the show Barefoot Contessa



3 Strips of Bacon, diced

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Small Onion, chopped

3 Cloves of Garlic

½ Teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes

1½ Teaspoons Dried Oregano

1 Cup of Vodka

2-28oz Cans of Italian San Marzano, whole Plum Tomatoes

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper

1lb Penne Pasta

3 Tablespoons of Fresh Oregano

¾ Cup Heavy Cream

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese



Pre-heat the oven to 375.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat and fry the diced bacon until crispy, then remove from the pan and set aside. Drain off the excess bacon grease then heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the red pepper flakes and the dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue to cook until the liquid had reduced by half.

Strain all the juice off the tomatoes, and then crush the tomatoes with your hands directly into the pan. Add salt and black pepper to taste. (Note if you can’t find Italian San Marzano Tomatoes add just a pinch of sugar to the sauce to replicate the sweetness from the San Marzano.)

Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and place in the oven. After 1½ hours, remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente according to the package instructions.

Place cooled tomato sauce in a blender and puree to a desired consistency. I like to have a little texture in my sauce. Return the sauce to the pan and cook over medium low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano, the crispy bacon, and the heavy cream. Bring the sauce up to a simmer and taste for seasoning.

When the pasta is cooked just to al dente, strain the pasta then toss it directly into the sauce. Cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in ½ cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Parmigiano cheese and a sprinkle of fresh oregano.

Posted by

My name is Melody and I am the cook and blogger behind Meals With Mel. I have a love for traveling, I share a joy for gardening, and I have a passion for cooking. Although I do some baking, I don't consider myself a baker as I can't stand having to measure. When it comes to cooking my philosophy is add a bit of this, a dash of that, a splash of something doesn't hurt, never forget some type of pepper and always add at least one clove of garlic. Thanks for stopping by my Spicy Texas Kitchen and I hope to see you again!!! Melody

15 thoughts on “Penne Alla Vodka Sauce….

  1. I’ll have to try this. I would use the bacon fat in the sauce instead of replacing it with olive oil. Interesting about the San Marzano tomatoes. I brought some cans from Italy and those are more acidic than regular tomatoes instead of more sweet.
    I bet this would also be great with jumbo shrimp instead of bacon, just make sure to cook them only for a couple of minutes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you give it a try Stefan 😀 and bacon fat in the sauce it’s always a good idea. When I made this the other night I actually minced up the bacon and cooked it in the sauce with the onions and garlic and it was wonderful. Also love the idea of jumbo shrimp with this sauce too!! Hope you are doing well and it’s always good to hear from you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Made this last night. IT WAS AMAZING!!!!! My whole family loved it-
    Have made vodka sauce before but the baking in the oven really did make it richer and more delicious. Definitely a keeper-

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😀 You’ve got to love a hot summer day!! Strangely I always crave winter dishes in summer time and summer foods in winter. Maybe I was from the Southern Hemisphere in another life.


  3. This looks luscious Mel!! and you’re right about the bacon– just that touch of crispy, salty, meaty wakes things up. But you did make me jealous with the cool winter weather part. In the 80’s here this week. But– rain predicted for this weekend, hope it’s true! Love reading your blog– feels like getting a good recipe from a next door neighbor. thanks. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rhonda 🙂
      I’ve alway felt the same about your blog as well. I envy your neighbors because I can totally see you just popping over to say hello with a delicious warm cake and good conversation.

      As you know word “cool” is used loosely here in Texas… cool = 65 degrees out. It’s been really warm and windy here this past week and the trees are starting to bloom and leaf out already. I guess spring is here!! Although my mother-in-law, who is a master gardner, always says wait to start planting until after Easter…. there is alway one last freeze before Easter.


      1. Sounds like the same around here–we just keep hoping for some “winter weather” — do you have in-laws, parents, close by? I could use a master gardner mother-in-law for some advice. With all the warm winter and this drought, my yard is a mess. We can only water once a week so we lost a whole wall of ivy and finally had to cut down a huge maple tree. Felt like I was losing a friend! — enough gloom. It’s Friday! hope you have a relaxing fun weekend ahead! xo

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Rhonda 🙂
        Sorry it took so long to get back to you it’s been a busy coupe of days.

        My whole family lives very close. In fact my in-laws and my parents actually live less than a mile apart and my grandpa (on my mothers side) and my grandma (on my dads side) live in the same county as the rest of us.

        As for my in laws they have run their own nursery and have now for 50 years!!! They currently specialize in herbs and perennials. Ever year I come home with a truck packed full of herbs 🙂 especially basil.

        I feel your pain about loosing plants and trees. 2 years ago we were in a very bad drought too and we lost trees and shrubs. Then this past year (and I think this year will be the same too) we have had record breaking rainfall and I’m losing plants because they are constantly under water. It’s like we can win and just have “normal” weather… Always extremes!!


      3. How great to have family all around Melody! We have my mom and my in-laws nearby. In fact I’m off for our weekly walk with my father-in-law in a couple minutes. He’s 88! — I know. gardening is tricky. I think mainly (besides the drought) I don’t give it enough time! So my plan is to be a fantastic gardener when I retire before too long. we’ll see… It would help to have some real experts in the family, like you do! How are the pecan trees??? xo


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