Rich and creamy Vegan Penne alla Vodka is a perfect special occasion meal that comes together in a single pot! It’s such a cozy bowl of comfort food.
Penne alla vodka is nothing new, but the traditional version is loaded with cream and cheese. Luckily, you can make rich, creamy vegan penne alla vodka just as easily. And you can do it all in a single pot in about half an hour!
Making the Vegan Vodka Sauce
The joy of one-pot pasta is that you make the sauce and cook the pasta all at once, and all in one pot. And y’all, that pot should be big.
You want plenty of room for the pasta to move around and for you to stir without splashing, so go with a 6-8 quart soup pot for this recipe.
To make the sauce, start by giving plenty of fresh garlic a quick saute. Then, add the penne, a splash of of vodka, canned tomatoes, water, and vegan milk.
When you’re choosing your vodka for this recipe, make sure you use one that’s not processed with animal ingredients. Most vodkas tend to be vegan, but there are a few non-vegan ones on store shelves.
Got everything in the pot? Let’s do this.
Cooking the One-Pot Penne alla Vodka
Let’s talk a bit more about the simmer-and-stir step, because it’s critical. Frequent stirring (along with that big-enough pot) is going to prevent your pasta from sticking to the bottom and to each other.
The other thing about stirring frequently is that it means, by default, that you’re checking in on that pasta frequently. During the second half of cooking, you may need to add more water to keep things from drying out.
I give a range of water amounts for this recipe, because there are quite a few variables:
- The pasta. How long as that pasta been in your pantry? Was the box open from another recipe? Older pasta takes more time and water to cook.
- The tomatoes. Canned tomatoes can vary in how juicy they are. If they have more liquid, you won’t need to add as much water later on in the cooking process.
- The temperature. Is it chilly in your kitchen? That might make the water take a bit longer to boil, which will up the cooking time slightly and may mean you need to add more water toward the end.
Don’t fret, though! You don’t need to do any kitchen math. Just keep an eye on the pot, and add a splash of water, if you feel like things are getting too dry.
During the last 3-5 minutes of cooking, stir that pasta like it’s your job. Almost-constant stirring will prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan while there’s not much liquid left.
Once the pasta is tender and the sauce is clinging to the pasta, remove the pan from the heat.
Then, stir in more olive oil; chopped, fresh parsley; and nutritional yeast. Season with salt and hot sauce or lemon juice, and it’s time to serve!
One-Pot Vegan Penne alla Vodka
- 3 tablespoons olive oil – divided
- 6 cloves of garlic – peeled and minced
- 2 1/2 cups dry penne
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
- 2-3 cups water
- 1 cup soy or oat milk
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- salt – to taste
- your favorite hot sauce OR lemon juice – to taste
- In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic for a few minutes, until it’s slightly browned.
- Add the penne, vodka, tomatoes, 2 cups of water, and soy or oat milk to the pot, and turn the heat up to high. Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the pasta is tender, about 9-12 minutes. Add water, 1/4 cup at a time, as needed. The amount of times you'll have to do this during the cooking process will vary, so have that water handy, and keep an eye on the pot! The resulting pasta should have a thick, clingy sauce.
- Drizzle the remaining oil into the pot, add the parsley, and stir in the nutritional yeast. Season with the salt and hot sauce or lemon juice just before serving.
- Soup Pot
- It’s crucial that you keep a close eye on the pot, stirring and adding water as needed. During the last few minutes, I’d recommend stirring almost constantly, since the less liquid in the pan, the more likely the pasta is to stick to the bottom. Both stirring and adding water prevent the pasta from sticking together and from burning during cooking, so make sure you’re checking in often!
- The variation in cooking times for the pasta depends on a few things. Older pasta will need more time (and water) to cook. If your kitchen is cold, that ups the cooking time, too, because it will take longer for the liquid to boil.
- Hot sauce or lemon juice might seem like a strange choice, but it’s all about that acid. If you like spicy, go with a vinegar-based hot sauce, like Tabasco or Cholula. If heat isn’t your thing, lemon juice will bring the acid without the spiciness.