A plate of pasta with broccoli and carrots.

Pasta with Vodka Sauce – Alison Mountford

By Alison Mountford for RINewsToday




QUICK TIPS – Don’t miss this classic, old school sauce, made properly. Use the best quality tomato paste you can find since that gives it all of the flavor. The vodka cooks off and there’s so little here that even kids can safely enjoy this meal, if you were wondering.


1 shallot

2 cloves garlic

3 Tablespoon unsalted butter (divided)

1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for pasta water)

1/2 cup tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 Tablespoons vodka

1 pound rigatoni pasta (or other shape such as penne or orecchiette)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated, divided)


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it generously so it tastes like the ocean. Boil pasta until al dente; follow the package instructions. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water before draining.

Mince both the shallot and garlic. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 ½ Tablespoons of butter. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. 

Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until paste has coated shallots and garlic and is beginning to darken, 5 minutes.

Add vodka to the pot and stir to incorporate, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

Add ¼ cup pasta water and heavy cream, stirring to combine.

Add ½ of the parmesan and stir until melted.

Turn off heat and stir in cooked pasta.

Fold in remaining parmesan, adding more pasta water to taste, about a Tablespoon at a time until you like the consistency of the sauce.

Season with salt if needed. Serve immediately with more parmesan over the top.


Printable and downloadable document:


Chef Alison Mountford is the founder of Ends+Stems – which is a meal planning membership and recipe website to reduce food waste. “Chef Alison” also hosts a series of online courses for easier weeknight meals and feeding picky eaters with less stress. Alison began in 2005 as a personal chef and caterer in San Francisco but she recently returned home to Rhode Island!

She is passionate about helping families eat well together, with less frustration. Alison is often hired as a speaker to share about household food waste, feeding busy families, and sustainability in the kitchen; she’s appeared many times on The Rhode Show and other podcasts and webinars.

Alison is also the Market Coordinator at Hope & Main – Rhode Island only culinary incubator – where she loves helping new food businesses expand their social media, brand, and increase sales at the farmer’s markets!