Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spicy Penne a la Vodka with Spinach & Mushrooms

My second blog post ever was a haphazard photo of my spicy penne a la vodka. Just a random photo I took of my pasta in a serving dish on the counter of the kitchen in my & Chris' very first home. No commentary. Recipe only. Barely formatted. Well, I've been making Spicy Pasta (as it's become dubbed in my house) for probably 10 years now and it never fails to satisfy. This recipe is the sole reason that I always have vodka on hand in my freezer. So, I thought I'd give it the justice it deserves and do a proper entry for this recipe.

I like this recipe because you can throw in whatever ingredients you've got on hand in terms of chicken, veggies, and noodle type. My favorite combination is spinach and mushroom with penne. But I've also done sauteed chicken, or no add-ins at all. I think that Penne noodles or farfalle work best because they hold the sauce in their nooks and crannies.

This recipe makes about 3 servings. Perfect for a household of two, with enough for some leftovers the next day. Since I don't need much spinach for this recipe, and we don't eat spinach in much else, I like to source my spinach from the salad bar. That way I don't waste so much food and money by buying the bags or big bunches of spinach. Add this one to your repertoire. You won't be disappointed!

1/2 lbs penne noodles
.5 Tbs olive oil
.5 Tbs butter
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 14oz can crushed tomatoes
1/8 - 1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs Parmesan Cheese, plus more for topping the pasta
Handful of spinach (optional)
10 Button or baby bella mushrooms, quartered, sauteed (optional)

  1. Boil noodles in a pot of salted water until al dente.
  2. In large saute pan heated to medium, heat olive oil and butter. Add shallot and saute until softened - about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, cook until fragrant.
  3. Add vodka and chicken stock to pan, and cook 5 minutes, or until reduced by 50%. Add crushed tomatoes and simmer until noodles are cooked. Add cream, parmesan cheese to tomato sauce and stir to combine.
  4. Add noodles to the pan with the sauce, turn up the heat and stir to combine. Once the sauce has thickened a bit, toss in the mushrooms and spinach just before serving. The heat from the sauce will wilt the spinach perfectly. Serve with additional parmesan on top!


  1. This looks delicious! Wish my husband like mushrooms.

  2. Hi Brady - Great thing about this recipe is that it's super easy to customize. If your husband doesn't like mushrooms, I'd suggest sauteeing some up on the side, then tossing them in the pasta after you've served some up for your husband.