Ricotta Penne Alla Vodka

Two big plates filled with penne all vodka and basil

What makes Penne Alla Vodka better, adding Ricotta. This Ricotta Penne Alla Vodka will knock your socks off. Creamy and comforting while mixed with a little kick to make this dish anything you could ever ask for. Don’t forget to add extra parmesan on top, what is an Italian dish without parmesan. Check out the recipe below and try it for yourself!

Inspiration behind the dish

Growing up, Penne Alla Vodka was always one of my favorite dishes. The rich and creaminess of this pasta dish keeps you coming back for more. I decided to mix up my own concoction for a vodka sauce and kept thinking, this should be creamier. I don’t know if it is just my obsession with thick sauce but I knew there was something missing. To change that, whole tomatoes came into the picture. That let us puree the tomatoes to thicken the sauce. Next the creaminess, this is where the ricotta comes into play. All of these ingredients together make for the BEST Ricotta Penne Alla Vodka ever!

Overhead shot of two plates of pasta with a vodka sauce next two red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese

Tools you might need

Large Sauce Pan or Dutch Oven: For this recipe you will need a very deep sauce pan or a dutch oven. This makes a good size batch of sauce and once you add the pasta, you will be happy to have the large dutch oven so you don’t lose any of the noodles.

Immersion Blender or Blender: Preferably we recommend you use an immersion blender for this Ricotta Penne Alla Vodka, that way you don’t have to transfer the sauce and risk spillage or losing any of that sauce. But if not, a blender works just as well to puree these tomatoes into perfection.

One white plate filled with pasta and a creamy red sauce with basil sprinkled on top

Ingredients

Whole San Marzano Tomatoes: This is the game changer tomato. You can certainly buy pureed sauce but blending these yourself really makes a much more flavorful sauce.

Pancetta: The Italian bacon, cured in salt to provide extra flavor. You can choose to opt out if you are vegetarian but if you do, I recommend adding a pinch extra of salt.

Vodka: The alcohol cooks out but leaves a great tang after the fact. You can use any type of vodka you would like but we do recommend a good vodka like Tito’s.

Ricotta: The creamy hidden gem so many people don’t know to use. I have seen so many people make Penne Alla Vodka with heavy cream and it is tasty. But, Ricotta is the real MVP to add to an Italian dish.

Plate of pasta on a wooden board next to red pepper flakes

Step by step to recreate

To make this Ricotta Penne Alla Vodka, first, heat your large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Once the pan is warm add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, add the garlic, shallots, and pancetta. Cook this pancetta mixture for about 5 minutes or until the onion starts to be come translucent. The pancetta should also be fully cooked through before you remove the pancetta mixture and set aside to be added back in later. In the same pan or dutch oven that is empty, add your can of whole San Marzano tomatoes. Bring the tomatoes to a simmer and let cook for about 10 minutes. Pour in the vodka and add the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Let these flavors cook together for 10-15 minutes.

Using an immersion blender or regular blender, blend the whole San Marzano tomatoes until it is completely pureed. Bring the pureed sauce back to a simmer. Slowly begin to add the ricotta and parmesan in small quantities at a time and stir well. Once all the cheese is added, stir back in the pancetta, garlic, shallots, basil, and bring back to a simmer. Cook the penne al dente in a pot of salted water. Once the pasta is ready, add it to the sauce and mix to combine your Ricotta Penne Alla Vodka. Serve with parmesan and basil as the garnish!

From our kitchen to yours, cheers!

Close up shot of a red sauce pasta dish with red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese
Two big plates filled with penne all vodka and basil
Print

Ricotta Penne Alla Vodka

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 shallot sliced and chopped finely
  • 4 oz pancetta chopped
  • 28 oz canned whole san marzanos tomatoes
  • cup vokda
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • ½ cup parmesan shredded
  • 1 tbsp basil roughly chopped
  • 1 lb penne

Instructions

  • In a large sauce pan or dutch oven heat pan over medium heat.
  • Add 1 tbsp oil to the pan and bring to heat. Add the garlic, shallots, and pancetta. Cook about 5 minutes or until the onion starts to become transluent and the pancetta is cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • In the same pan or dutch oven, now empty, add your 28oz can of whole san marzano tomatoes. Let cook for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the vodka, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and let cook another 10-15 minutes.
  • Using an immersion blender or regular blender, blend the tomatoes until your begin to see a nice puree. Bring back to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Slowly begin to add the ricotta and parmesan a little at a time and stir well until all cheese is combined. Add in the pancetta, garlic, shallot mixture and basil, bring back to a simmer.
  • Cook penne al dente in a pot of water. Once ready, add to the sauce and mix well. Serve and garnish with parmesan and basil!

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