Healthy Vodka Sauce and Rigatoni

I love Vodka Sauce, but I don’t love all that cream and richness on a regular basis.  I’ll save that experience for a place like Rao’s when I am in the mood.  I always make enough sauce for at least two dinners so plan on having extra and boiling pasta the next day or two.

#1I use carrots to help get that pink/orange cream color of classic Vodka Sauce.  Not only do they help with the sauce’s color but I really like the taste they bring to the dish.#2Make sure you cook this down for awhile.  The longer you do the more flavor your sauce will have.#3Let it stew, let it stew, let it stew. Stir occasionally. Once nicely blended, continue to cook to release all the flavors.#5Since there is no cream in this, don’t be afraid to play loose with the cheese.#6Vodka Sauce is not a gimmick! The alcohol is scientifically proven to enhance the flavors of the tomatoes and garlic along with the fruity esters and aroma molecules etc. as they cook off, or so I’ve read ha.

– 3 28 oz. cans of good crushed tomatoes
– 3 large carrots
– 3 yellow onions (4 if they are small)
– 1 bulb of fresh garlic
– Healthy pinch of red pepper flakes
– 3 tablespoons of dried Italian herbs such as oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme etc. (mix to your liking)
– 1 cup of vodka (don’t use the cheap stuff–it will leave an odd taste so I used Ketel One)
– Salt & Pepper
– 1 Bushel of Parsley
– Wedge of good cheese for grating
– 1 16 oz. box of rigatoni


1) Wash, peel and cut the carrots into small cylinders.  Peel and dice the onions.  Peel garlic and cut about 8 cloves in half.  Place all three into a large pot and sauté until carrots are tender and half-cloves of garlic just browned.  Add red pepper flakes to taste (I like mine pretty spicy) and toast pepper flakes with vegetables for roughly a minute.

2) Add cans of tomatoes, herbs, and vodka and bring to a boil.  Stir continuously.  Once brought to a boil turn the heat to low.

3) Using an immersion blender (or whatever means necessary) blend all ingredients until smooth.  Continue to cook for roughly 45 minutes until all vodka is cooked off and your kitchen smells like you have been making pasta sauce all day long.

4) Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt, and cook pasta for 12 minutes or as your box suggests.

5) Drain pasta. Place in a large bowl and spoon a substantial amount of sauce over all and toss.  Place in pasta bowls, garnish with fresh chopped parsley, grind pepper, and grate cheese. Mangia!

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