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Fusilli alla Vodka

Servings 4 people


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 pound penne or fusilli pasta
  •  1/2 cup (4 ounces)  tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp vodka
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • For serving: grated parmesan, basil
  • Optional: fresh mozzarella


  • Warm 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 grated garlic cloves and cook until softened and light brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook 1 pound fusilli pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water and drain. 
  • Stir in 1/2 cup tomato paste until it darkens in color and fully incorporates with the oil. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes until simmering. Add 2 tablespoons vodka and continue stirring until it has evaporated. 
  • Stir in 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes and 2 cups heavy cream and reduce heat to medium-low. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
  • When sauce is thick and smooth, add the cooked, drained pasta and 1 tablespoon butter. Toss to combine. If you need to loosen the sauce, add a couple of tablespoons of cooking water at a time until the right consistency is achieved. It should cling to the pasta, and look very smooth and glossy. 
  • Divide between four bowls and top with Parmesan and basil. Add 1 ounce cubed, fresh mozzarella to each bowl if desired.
Author: Caroline Chambers