Pasta is by no means an inferior meal, it’s a quick and cheap go-to for a huge majority of us, and rightly so as the options for experimentation are endless!

This is something a little different to the usual Tomato/Cheese based sauces as it uses Vodka for its main point of flavour, but it is balanced beautifully with tomato and cheese as side notes instead.

This is really quick to throw together, and is an impressive meal for a get together when you want a more upmarket Pasta dish.

You can add Italian Sausage, Pancetta or smoked bacon if you wish, even chicken will fit in to this dish perfectly. Just sauté the meat off first before the onion and garlic.

If you want a bit more of a veggie boost, add a few handfuls of Spinach at the end, or even some grated courgette!


250g penne pasta

½ a small onion (diced)

2 clove garlic (crushed and chopped)

200ml of passata or tinned tomatoes

40ml vodka

220ml cream

1 sprig of fresh basil (shredded)

40g parmesan (grated)

1 tsp butter

Pinch chilli flakes

Sea salt and racked black pepper

Olive oil


  • Heat a dash of olive oil in a wide non-stick pan and sauté the onion and garlic over a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, being careful not to brown them.
  • Add half the vodka and simmer for two minutes.
  • Add the passata, chilli flakes and the basil and simmer gently for a further 15 minutes. While this is simmering, cook Pasta to pack instructions.
  • Add the other half of vodka and simmer for five minutes.
  • Add the cream, butter and cheese, and season well.
  • Toss through the pasta and serve with extra parmesan.
  • Serve with crusty bread, green salad and lashings of red wine!
  • Visit Ethna's website for more recipes