Rigatoni with Easy Vodka Sauce

Pasta is definitely my go-to for quick weeknight dishes. Maybe too often! Vodka sauce is one of our absolute favorites, so this vegetarian, quick version was irresistible. I’ve already made it twice. 😉

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. On one occasion, I added mushrooms to mimic the amazing version served at Tony’s Di Napoli in NYC. I added more garlic and used mezzi rigatoni as well. Great.

Yield: Serves 4

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 5 oz white mushrooms, sliced, optional
  • 4 oz Parmesan cheese, about 1/2 cup, finely grated
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 4.5-oz tube double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb rigatoni or mezzi rigatoni
  • basil leaves, for serving
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. (I used a large, shallow, enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. Add the onion and garlic, stirring constantly, just until the onion is starting to brown around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. *If incorporating the mushrooms, add after the onions have cooked for 2 minutes.*
  4. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes and stir to coat onion. Cook, stirring often, until paste is deep red and starting to brown and stick to the bottom of the pot, about 4 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add vodka to deglaze the pan, scraping up browned bits; reduce the heat to low.
  6. Using a heatproof measuring glass, scoop out about 1/4 cup boiling pasta water from the pot. Add heavy cream to the water. (This brings up the temperature of the cream so it won’t break when you add it to the pot.)
  7. Stirring constantly, gradually pour cream mixture into the onion mixture and cook, stirring, until a smooth sauce forms. Remove from heat.
  8. Cook pasta in the pot of boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. About 1 minute before pasta is done, scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid.
  9. Return the pot with sauce to low heat.
  10. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer the pasta to the sauce pot.
  11. Stir in 1/2 cup of pasta cooking liquid, then gradually add half of the Parmesan, stirring constantly to melt. The pasta should be coated with a smooth, glossy sauce.
  12. Season with salt; add more pasta cooking liquid if sauce is too thick.
  13. Top with basil and remaining Parmesan and drizzle with a little oil, as desired.

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