Vodka Pasta Orecchiette

May 21, 2010Katie

Have you ever had pasta with vodka sauce? The first time I heard “vodka sauce”, I was a little leary. Then I tasted it.

Then I knew I had to make it.

Don’t let the booze scare you off, you cook all the alcohol out and it adds something to this sauce that is fabulous.

So I spent a little time figuring out this recipe that I get at a place near my house.  The sauce has pancetta, garlic, and shallots all blended into a intensely-flavorful, creamy tomato sauce that is to die for yummy.

Start by dicing up some pancetta.  I used to get the cubed kind at a place here, but for some reason they don’t have it right now, so I had to use the sliced kind.  It was still good.  If you can’t find pancetta, you could use finely diced ham or bacon.

Saute this around in a tablespoon of olive oil for a few minutes or until it gets most of the way done. 

While that’s cooking, add a couple tablespoons of salt to a large pot of water and bring it to a boil.  That way, your pasta will be ready when your sauce is done.  When it boils, add in one box of Orecchiette pasta.

  I got mine at Whole Foods on my trip to Tulsa a few weeks back.  Orecchiette means “little ears’ and that’s exactly what they look like!  Can you imagine how these will hold the sauce?  Just like little bowls!

Dump these little cuties into the boiling water and cook them to al dente according to the package directions.

**Note to self for next time:  don’t drain these too early or they stick like a mother.

Now, back to our sauce.  Chop up one-half of a medium onion (or use 2-3 shallots) and add them right in with the pancetta.

Also press in or mince up 3 cloves of garlic.

Let this cook for about another minute.  This is the point where my kids came into the kitchen and said “Something smells good!”

Add in one cup of vodka. And yes I said one whole cup.  Stir it around and scrape the bottom of the pan real good.

Your sauce will brown a bit from scraping up all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan that the cooked pancetta made.

Let your vodka sauce reduce down by one half of what it starts at. This will cook out the alcohol, but also intensify the flavors of everything.

Pour in 2 cans of tomato puree and stir it all around.

The brace yourself, hold on, and add in 2 pint containers of heavy cream.

Stir this up.

And add in one cup of this goodness.

Pecorino Romano cheese.  I love its salty, nutty flavor.  Grate up one cup and dump it right in.  If you want to, you could just use Parmesan.

Then stir it up for about a minute, letting its melting loveliness do its work.

Then drain your pasta and dump it right into the sauce.  Gently take a large spoon and fold all the pasta and sauce together, until the pasta is all coated and the little “ears” are full of the sauce.

Holy moly.

Sprinkle on some fresh basil.

Then spoon some into serving bowls, and top with a little mound of more fresh pecorino romana and a little more basil.

And, if you have manly men like me, who just have to have their animal flesh with every meal…

Add in a grilled mild, sweet Italian sausage on the side.  If I’d just served the pasta, that little bit of pancetta would not have been what they considered “meat”.

I know my boys.

This was yummy.  Oh so yummy. 

You must make it!

Katie’s Printable Recipe – Vodka Pasta with Oriecchette


  • Fran J

    May 22, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    holey moley is right! that looks fabulous and probably tastes great, too.
  • kyle

    January 8, 2015 at 2:01 am

    This looks FANTASTIC but why not make your own Orrechiette pasta??? It is SOOOO EASY and absolutley the MOST DELICIOUS PASTA I HAVE EVER EATEN. takes about 1 1/2 hours from start to finish, letting the dough rest an hour. No special tools needed. Just need semolina flour and water

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