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Vegan Penne Alla Vodka

Print Recipe
This vegan penne alla vodka is rich and creamy thanks to a sauce made from blended cashews and sauteed onions. Red pepper flakes add a kick.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword pasta
Servings 4


  • Dutch oven
  • High-speed blender


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano plus more for garnishing
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes plus more if desired
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 28-oz cans whole peeled san marzano tomatoes
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 lb penne
  • 1/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup grated vegan parmesan (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until they begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Carefully add the vodka, standing back to avoid flames, and simmer for 5–7 minutes, until the mixture is reduced by half.
  • Add the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven to bake for 1 1/2 hours.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, until al dente. Drain, reserving about a cup of pasta water, and set aside.
  • Pour the tomato mixture, cashews and water into a high-speed blender and blend until completely smooth and creamy. Be sure to vent the top with a towel to let the pressure out—the mixture will be very hot. Return the blended mixture to the dutch oven.
  • Add the fresh oregano, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook for 2 minutes so that everything comes together nicely. Add a bit of reserved pasta water if you like a thinner sauce.
  • Off heat, stir in 1/2 cup of the vegan parmesan cheese (if using) and serve sprinkled with extra herbs and parmesan.