Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Lumaconi alla Vodka

The idea of adding Vodka to a tomato and bacon based pasta sauce did not seem strange to me today when I decided to give it a try, but after searching into the history of the dish, I struggled to find where the idea originated from.

Even Wikipedia was no help, giving numerous possibilities of how the dish developed:
According to Pasquale Bruno, Jr., author of The Ultimate Pasta Cookbook, penne alla vodka was invented at Dante, a restaurant in Italy. Other historians of the culinary arts recognize James Doty, a graduate of Columbia University, as the inventor of penne a la vodka. Paula Franzese, an American law professor, has asserted that her father Luigi Franzese, born in Naples, Italy in 1931, devised the first version of penne alla vodka, which he called penne alla Russia because of the addition of the vodka to his tomato and cream sauce base. He first prepared the dish table side for patrons at the New York City restaurant Orsini in the early 1970s. (This seems the more recognised version of events with other websites I stumbled across stating the same!) The Williams Sonoma Essentials of Italian cookbook says that it was invented in the 1980s by a Roman chef for a vodka company that wanted to popularize its product in Italy.

Wherever the dish originated from, this is my version! Do give it a try and let me know what you think!

Lumaconi alla Vodka


Lumaconi pasta - I prefer this shape as it is brilliant for sauces which fill the cavity.
Large cup passata
2 rashers of bacon chopped small (leave out the fat if you're wanting to be healthy!)
One small onion finely chopped
Large crushed clove of garlic
Handful cherry tomatoes (halved)
Yellow Pepper finely chopped
Sliced mushrooms
Handful of basil (ripped)
Tsp paprika
Shot of vodka
Salt and pepper to season


Fry off the bacon in a pan, add the onion and garlic to the bacon juices and fry until the onions have softened.

Add the passata and leave to simmer, allowing the flavours to infuse for 5 mins (minimum) before adding the vodka.

Add the mushrooms and pepper at the same time as the paprika, and again allow to simmer for at least 5 minutes.

At this stage pop the pasta into a pan of boiling water. Then add the last of the ingredients to the sauce (basil and tomatoes)

As soon as the pasta is just soft (you want to retain some bite in the pasta as this sauce is so fine) and serve!

The dish is really something quite special! The vodka should not be overpowering, but instead it should help to balance the flavours - the bacon is salty, the paprika smoky, and the tomatoes sweet, the vodka will cut straight through all of this!

I hope you enjoy giving the recipe a go! (For all you freshers out there...maybe this is a new way to do hair of the dog?)

Pasta With Vodka Sauce


  1. I love this recipe! I had something like this in Zizzi's once and it was actually really nice! Guess you just have to be careful how much vodka you put in :p
    p.s. didn't get to say before, but I love the new look of your blog! :)

  2. Glad you like the new look Xinmei! As for the vodka...I definitely recommend a shot rather than a bottle of Vodka :P I guess with any recipe it's about balancing the flavours :)



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