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Penne Pasta in Creamy Vodka Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms

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Penne Pasta in Creamy Vodka Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms – make your own vodka sauce from scratch! Easy, delicious, and so Italian! Perfect weeknight dinner!

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Want to make an easy Italian dish at home and impress your family, your friends, or your date?  This is the right recipe for you, then! This pasta dish is packed with flavors (tomatoes, mushrooms, spices), it’s very creamy, with just the right amount of “kick” (spiciness), topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  This creamy penne will please everyone!

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Because the sauce is made completely from scratch (no packaged sauces), you can easily convert this recipe to a gluten free one, just by using gluten-free brown-rice penne pasta (I used Tinkyada brand).

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Step-by-step photos to illustrate the cooking process:
In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic in olive oil on medium heat, until onion softens. Add tomatoes, vodka, crushed red pepper, basil, oregano – break tomatoes if necessary.  Bring the mixture to boil. Reduce to simmer and simmer, covered, occasionally stirring, for about 20 minutes or until sauce thickens. During the last 10 minutes, add mushrooms, and continue to simmer.

making creamy tomato sauce with mushrooms

At the end of 20 minutes of simmering, mushrooms should be cooked through, and sauce will thicken:

making tomato pasta sauce with mushrooms

While on low heat, add heavy cream and half & half to the sauce:

adding cream to the tomato pasta sauce - making pasta sauce from scratch

Stir everything to ensure even consistency. Add 3/4 teaspoon of salt or more to season the sauce. At this point, your sauce will acquire a nice color just like that:

how to make vodka sauce from scratch

In the mean time, cook pasta according to package instructions – add cooked and rinsed pasta to the sauce. Reheat the sauce on low heat to heat everything through:

adding pasta to the vodka sauce

Penne Pasta in Creamy Vodka Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Penne Pasta in Creamy Vodka Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 14 oz canned tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon basil (if you have fresh basil - use more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or more
  • 8 oz penne pasta (for gluten free version, use gluten-free brown-rice penne, such as Tinkyada brand)
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic in olive oil on medium heat, until onion softens.
  2. Off heat, add tomatoes, vodka, crushed red pepper, basil, oregano - break tomatoes if necessary, and mix everything.
  3. Bring the mixture gently to medium heat. Reduce to simmer and simmer, on low heat, covered, occasionally stirring, for about 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens. During the last 10 minutes, add mushrooms, and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. While on low heat, add heavy cream and half & half to the sauce and stir everything to ensure even consistency. Add 3/4 teaspoon of salt or more to season the sauce.
  5. In the mean time, cook pasta according to package instructions. Rinse cooked pasta with cold water and drain (this stops pasta from cooking and prevents it from being too mushy). Add cooked and rinsed pasta to the sauce. Reheat the sauce on low heat to heat everything through.
  6. Serve each plate topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese
http://juliasalbum.com/2015/03/penne-pasta-in-creamy-vodka-tomato-sauce-with-mushrooms/

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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Monique March 21, 2015, 8:32 am

    Love your pasta dishes Julia.

  • Lindsey @ American Heritage Cooking March 21, 2015, 9:56 am

    LOVE a vodka cream sauce! Somehow it doesn’t seem as indulgent when you make your own at home! I can’t wait to try this recipe! Next time my husband is in NYC I will!

  • Monica March 21, 2015, 9:16 pm

    Your pasta dishes always look wonderful and this homemade vodka sauce is no exception! Everyone loves vodka sauce but how many of us ever make it fresh at home. Great idea!

  • That sauce looks really GOOD!

  • Roberta Melendy March 22, 2015, 3:17 pm

    This was a good dish however mine came out a little too watery and the vodka was a bit over powering. I followed the recipe to the “T.” My mushrooms did not shrink either….I would like to try it again with adding less vodka. Thanks for sharing!

  • Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen March 23, 2015, 12:53 am

    YUM! We just adore creamy vodka tomato sauce at our house. The first time I tried it (at a restaurant in Ann Arbor, MI back in the ’90s), I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Gorgeous and inviting photography as always, my friend. 🙂 Definitely going to make this one! Thanks for sharing and have a great week ahead! xo

  • Kim Corcoran May 5, 2015, 1:17 pm

    Excellent! I tweaked it slightly with twice as many mushrooms, of diverse kinds, which I sauteed first in butter and olive oil. I also added chicken breasts which I first sauteed, then pulled apart and added them to the sauce while simmering. This is a great dish…

  • Jodi Swirczek September 10, 2015, 10:07 pm

    Extremely disappointed in this recipe. The vodka totally overwhelmed the dish and it was inedible. I really hate wasting good ingredients, but it was impossible to eat this dish.

  • Alissa February 17, 2016, 11:44 am

    After reading a couple comments about how the vodka was overwhelming the sauce, I decided to take it down from 3/4 cup to 1/2 a cup, and it was absolutely amazing. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Rebecca Chance February 17, 2016, 9:56 pm

    I was so excited to try this sauce , wish I would have read the reviews first. Even though it’s a small amount of vodka it is so overwhelming and actually burns as it goes down your throat ……the vodka or ruined the entire recipe ! I was really upset that I had to throw the sauce away, as it was not edible.

  • Shelby March 17, 2016, 12:23 am

    I had a pretty big blonde moment while making this, but it turned out to be a delicious mistake. I totally forgot to put the vodka sauce at the right step! After poking around at the onion, tomato, and seasoning blend for 10-15 minutes, it was still impossibly thick so I blended a can of crushed tomatoes. Even still, I wasn’t a fan of the chunky nature of it- it just didn’t have that smooth, decadent texture that I love about vodka sauce, so I blitzed it in my Vitamix (sans the mushrooms).

    Although the texture was wonderful and it really was tasty, it was just missing something… duh! Vodka. I put it back in the pan and although it seemed like a LOT of vodka for the ratio of sauce (even with double to tomatoes), I did it anyways and cranked up the heat to burn out the alcohol.

    After a few minutes, I threw it together with some gnocchi and wow! It turned out stellar, and didn’t have a strong vodka flavor at all the the other reviewers have described. If anything, it could have had a tiny bit more!

  • Tory April 12, 2016, 7:17 pm

    Be careful if trying to make this recipe completely gluten free because not all vodka is gluten free!

  • Tessa October 28, 2016, 4:23 am

    Please, don’t rinse the pasta. Just cook it a minute or so less and add it with clinging cooking water. 🙂

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