Recipe: Dave’s Vodka/Sausage Penne

I got the inspiration for this from a recipe I saw in a magazine, but I didn’t get the recipe at the time so I had to recreate it from the ‘picture’ in my mind. It turned out great.


  • 2 large sweet Italian Sausages
  • 1 medium Spanish Onion, diced
  • 1 lb Penne Rigate Pasta (penne with ‘ridges’)
  • 1 tbsp Crushed Red Pepper (the kind you put on pizza – use 2-3 tbsp if you like spicy)
  • Small package fresh Mozzeralla Cheese
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 26 oz jar Classico Tomato and Basil spaghetti sauce (brand is probably not important, this is what I used)
  • 1/3 cup Vodka
  • ‘1/3 of a half-pint’ (about 3oz?) heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3 Fresh whole basil leaves
  • Olive Oil

Start by boiling water for the pasta.  Cook the onion over low heat in 1 tbsp olive oil until the onion is just beginning to get clear.  While the onion cooks, remove sausage meat from the casings and cook over medium heat till fully cooked, being sure to break up any large chunks. 

Don’t forget to put the penne in the boiling water.

In a medium pan boil the vodka.  There is a very strong smell at first as you boil off the alcohol.  As soon as the smell lessens a little, lower the heat to medium and add the spaghetti sauce.  Mix in the heavy cream, crushed pepper, tomato, and chopped basil – stir over medium heat till it almost boils, remove from heat.  The sauce should be only slightly pink. 

When the pasta is al dente, remove, drain, and rinse with cold water.  Drain well, transfer back to the pot.  Mix in the onion and sausage, then add enough of the pink sauce so that everything has an even coating without excess sauce pooling in the pan.  You may not need it all.

Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish or casserole.  Spread slices of the mozzarella across about 70% of the top and bake at 375 for 20 mins with foil over  the top.  Cook longer if the pasta cooled a lot before you put it in.

Remove from oven and garnish with basil leaves garnish prior to serving.

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