Delicious and creamy, this vegan penne alla vodka is super easy to prepare, so you can have dinner on the table in 20 minutes. This is a vegan vodka sauce without cashews, so you don't have to plan ahead to make it — all you need are a couple of pantry staples and a dash of vodka.
Simple pasta recipes with as few ingredients as possible are my absolute favourites, and this vegan vodka sauce is one of my go-to recipes for those days when I have to get something together quickly.
Most vegan vodka sauce recipes out there call for cashew nuts to get that lush creaminess, but going that way means that you have to think ahead and pre-soften the cashews a couple of hours or even overnight. You then blend them to obtain a cream to use in the vodka sauce.
My recipe is a vegan vodka sauce without cashews, as I use full-fat coconut milk instead. I always have a couple of tins in the kitchen, so I can have the pasta ready in 20 minutes. Plus, it's an excellent vodka sauce for those with nut allergies.
If you're wondering whether pasta with coconut milk tastes like coconut, the answer is, yes, it does taste a bit coconutty. The combination of quality crushed tomatoes, vodka, and coconut milk is a lush one, though, and even though you can feel there's coconut milk inside, it somehow works brilliantly.
What do you need to make this vegan vodka pasta?
There's a very short list of ingredients for this vegan penne alla vodka. I have most of them in the house at all times, so this is a great recipe for those days you don't have the time to go shopping.
Pasta — this is called "penne alla vodka" but you can use any type of short pasta you have.
Shallot — you can also use onion instead; shallot is more mellow and has a sweet flavour, while onion is a bit more intense.
Crushed tomatoes — it's important to use the best tomatoes you can as you can really taste them in this vodka sauce. I typically use a tin of plum tomatoes that I crush by hand.
Vodka — any unflavoured vodka works in this recipe. The alcohol will boil off during cooking and you won't be tasting it in the sauce, let alone get tipsy. Its purpose is to bring out the flavour of the tomatoes.
Chilli flakes — these are optional but very welcome if you want the pasta to have a bit of a kick.
Coconut milk — I use full-fat coconut milk for an extra creamy sauce, but you can use a light version if you want to cut down on calories.
How do you make the sauce?
You can make the sauce in approximately the same time it takes for the pasta to cook, so start on on it right after you put the pasta into boiling water.
- In a large pan, fry the shallot for 1-2 minutes until it softens.
- Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Next, add the crushed tomatoes to the pan and cook on low-medium heat for 3-4 minutes until they thicken a bit.
- Add the vodka and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the Italian seasoning and chilli flakes, and then pour the coconut milk. Mix everything well and allow it to bubble for 1-2 minutes.
- Transfer the drained pasta to the pan and give it a good stir. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.
Recipe tips & tricks
- If you choose to make this vodka sauce with light coconut milk, you may need to cook it for a couple of minutes longer to thicken.
- Vodka is highly flammable, so be careful with it if you're cooking on a stove with an open flame.
- If the sauce looks too thick when you add the pasta, add a bit of pasta water.
If you liked this vegan penne alla vodka, have a look at some of my other quick and easy vegan recipes: