I have been making this dish since college days and the first version of it came from a penne all’arrabbiata recipe, which translates as “enraged penne.”  The sauce can be hot to very hot, depending upon the amount of dried red pepper that you decide to use.  The dash of vodka and heavy cream enhances the flavor and color.  This dish takes about 20 minutes.  I now prefer to use my Quick Chunky Tomato Sauce instead of the store-bought sauce, but I wanted to give you the original recipe for my friends and family who complain that all of my cooking is becoming too time consuming.  The Quick Sauce only takes 20 minutes and I think it is worth the tiny extra effort, as the water has to boil and then the pasta cook, so it really takes no extra time, but here is the easy version:


  • 1 quart store-bought marinara sauce, kicked up with 1 T. red pepper flakes, 1 T. freshly crushed garlic, 1 t. salt, 1 t. pepper, 1 T. fresh herbs or Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 pound penne
  • Freshly chopped parsley and Parmesan to serve


Simmer the tomato sauce with the spices and bring to a simmer in a heavy large skillet over low heat.  Add vodka and cook while pasta water is boiling until the mixture reduces by 1/4, stirring often, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta.

Stir the cream into the tomato and vodka sauce. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is heated through. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted and well blended.  Transfer the pasta to the pan with the sauce, and toss to coat.  Serve with more Parmesan and chopped parsley on top.