One of the last weeks of harvesting tomatoes, we make vodka sauce ~ also known as “pink sauce” ~ a color that results  from red tomatoes and heavy cream. It’s a luxurious, “I-wanna-marinate-in-it” delicious sauce.  The vodka adds a peppery element to the sweet tomatoes, balancing perfectly with the cream. Choosing rigatoni for this dish ensures that the sauce clings to every noodle so every bite is perfect.  BUT if you don’t have rigatoni, penne or radiatori have good cling abilities, as well.  Serve this dish with a green salad and a bottle of your favorite red vino.

Makes approximately 2 quarts of sauce.

  • 4 unsalted butter
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 large onion, diced (approximately one cup)
  • 2 large shallots, diced (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 6-8 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 C organic tomato paste
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 3 lbs organic tomatoes OR (2) 28 oz can organic diced or whole tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves (take out before blending)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 C vodka, plus more if desired
  • 1-1/4 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 C grated asiago, plus more for serving (or parmigiana-reggiano)
  • 1 tsp salt (or more if needed)
  • 1 pound rigatoni (or penne or radiatori)
  • 1/2 C fresh organic basil leaves, chiffonade cut
  • Squeeze of lemon (optional)
  • Cracked black pepper or a little more chili flakes

In a large stock pot set over medium heat, melt butter with olive oil and add onion and shallots.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes until onions are slightly tender.  Add in garlic and continue to cook for about another minute.  Add in your tomato paste and red pepper flakes until fragrant. Stir in. Add in tomatoes, bay leaves and sugar.  Increase heat slightly and simmer covered for about 15 minutes.  Continue to stir occasionally to avoid burning.  After 15 minutes, remove your bay leaves. With an emersion blender, give your sauce a quick blend to smooth out your tomatoes and aromatics (onion, garlic, shallots).  Add in your vodka, continue stirring for about 5 minutes.  Add in cream, asiago and salt.  Turn down heat to medium-low and cover while you cook your pasta according to directions.

To serve, place drained pasta into a large serving bowl, ladle vodka sauce over the top.  Toss to coat all the pasta well.  Garnish with basil, shaved or grated asiago, black pepper and slices of lemon.


We have a lot of pesto in this house!  We’ve added another level of flavor to this pasta dish by drizzling basil pesto over the top of the sauced noodles.  It’s not bad.

If you have extra sauce, it freezes well.  Store in a glass sealed container for up to 6 months.