This simple, spicy vegan penne alla vodka sauce is my absolute favorite pasta sauce! And there's no butter or heavy cream required for a totally comforting meal, with some added heat, which really gives this recipe dimension.
Note: this vegan penne alla vodka sauce recipe was adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Chloe Flavor. Chloe Coscarelli is a nationally-renowned and award-winning vegan chef (she won Cupcake Wars!) with a beautiful spirit to boot, and I couldn't recommend Chloe Flavor more highly. My version of this recipe has more heat and less sweet. I also use penne pasta instead of rigatoni, and I recommend the best way to soften the cashews, optional add-ins, and specific brands of ingredients.
How to Make Spicy Vegan Penna alla Vodka Sauce
This easy, spicy vegan penne alla vodka sauce recipe is my go-to pasta recipe for a comforting home-cooked meal. I hope you enjoy the added kick of spice as much as I do!
- 8 oz. penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3-4 minced garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (plus more for garnishing)
- 1 can (28-ounces) whole peeled tomatoes with their juices
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ¼ cup vodka
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ½ cup water
- fresh basil, for garnishing
- Boil cashews for ten minutes to soften them, then blend them with the water until smooth. Leave the creamy cashew mixture in the blender.
- Meanwhile, boil salted water in a large pot, then add the penne pasta and cook according to the directions on the package. Drain the pasta once cooked and return it to the pot, out of the heat.
- At the same time, also heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, deep skillet.
- Once the olive oil is simmering, add the garlic cloves and red pepper flakes. Cook for about one minute, until fragrant.
- Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, then add the salt and brown sugar.
- Bring to a simmer while stirring.
- Add the vodka and let the sauce simmer for five minutes.
- Add the contents of the skillet to the blender and blend on high speed until smooth.
- Add the sauce to the pasta pot and toss to coat.
- Garnish with fresh basil and red pepper flakes.
- For some added bitterness, as well as nutritious greens, add a few handfuls of spinach towards the end of cooking the pasta. This is how I usually eat this recipe, and I love the way spinach tastes with tomato-based sauce.
- Or, steam broccoli florets on the side to get your veggies in.
- Or, saute a few handfuls of sliced white mushroom and mix them in with the pasta.
- You can also add a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast for some cheesy, umami flavor, as well as the vitamins it provides to vegans.
- You can substitute white sugar for brown sugar, if cooking strictly vegan doesn't matter to you.
- I recommend one box of Banza pasta for the protein and gluten-free benefits of chickpea flour. I also just really like the soft texture of this pasta even more than "regular" pasta.
- I recommend this specific DiBruno Brothers Sicilian Olive Oil from Philadelphia's Italian Market. It's a best-selling, high-quality oil that really does make a difference in my opinion.
- I strongly recommend the San Marzano brand of tomatoes, which is the closest to what the freshest of tomatoes really taste like in Italy. It's totally worth the extra money!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 324Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1100mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 2gSugar: 12gProtein: 7g
SHOP THE RECIPE
As a reminder, you can quickly and easily shop my top picks for the ingredients for this recipe online:
- Banza pasta: for the protein an gluten-free benefits of chickpea flour. I also just really like the soft texture of this pasta even more than "regular" pasta.
- DiBruno Brothers Sicilian Olive Oil: from Philadelphia's Italian Market. It's a best-selling, high-quality oil that really does make a difference.
- San Marzano brand tomatoes: which is the closest to what the freshest of tomatoes really taste like in Italy. It's totally worth the extra money!
Related Vegan Cookbook Recommendation
Also, since this is a blog “where books meet lifestyle,” as mentioned earlier, I am pairing this recipe with one of my favorite cookbooks, Chloe Flavor (from which this recipe was adapted), which is one of my absolute favorite vegan cookbooks. Chloe is is a vegan superstar who draws lines out the door at her restaurants and events.
Related Vegan Italian Recipe Posts
And if you enjoy vegan food, check out more of my simple vegan Italian recipes:
- Spring pasta with lemon, asparagus, peas & mushrooms
- Creamy tortellini soup recipe
- Pasta fagioli soup
- Pasta primavera with red sauce
Lastly, pin this vegan penne alla vodka sauce recipe to Pinterest because you can make it later.