Magnifico, Skinny Penne Alla Vodka Sauce



This restaurant quality pasta dish is absolutely delicious.  The luscious, creamy, tomatoey vodka sauce is rich, slightly spicy, with just a zing of vodka.  Penne Alla Vodka became quite popular in the late 1980‘s and is still popular today. Normally it includes real cream for richness but I’m using reduced-fat milk. In addition, I’m serving it over fiber rich whole wheat penne instead of white pasta.  The key to this sauce is using a premium vodka.  It adds a clean, fresh taste.  A less expensive brand will give a harsh taste. Each serving has 347 calories, 7 grams of fat and 8 Weight Watchers POINTS . Try it soon. It’s simply wonderful!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes


1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

½ cup onions, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

¾ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup Grey Goose or another premium quality vodka, see shopping tip

1 cup reduced-fat milk (2%)

12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta

6 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoon minced fresh basil for topping, optional


1. In a blender or food processor, puree half the canned tomatoes until smooth.  Chop the remaining tomatoes into ½ inch pieces, discarding the cores.

2.  In a large, nonstick saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil.  Add onions and tomato paste and cook until onions are light golden, about 2 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds.

3. Stir in pureed and chopped tomatoes and add salt.  Remove pan from heat and mix in vodka.  Return pan to medium heat and simmer, stirring often, until the alcohol flavor is cooked off, about 8 minutes.  Lower heat if simmering becomes too vigorous.  Stir in milk and cook about 1 minute more, until hot.

4. In the meantime, in a large pot, cook pasta according to directions on package, except, no need to add oil or salt to pot. Make sure to cook al dente, not over cooked.  Drain.

5. Return drained pasta to same pot, add cooked sauce and mix until combined.   Cook over medium heat until pasta absorbs some of the sauce.

6.Plate each serving and top with 1 tablespoon of cheese and a little basil, if desired. If you aren’t serving 6, this sauce freezes great for another time.

Makes 6 main-course servings

Food Facts

Although a simple dish of penne, vodka, tomatoes and cream was fashionable in Italy in the 1980‘s, Joanna’s Restaurant in New York made it popular in America.

Vodka is a clear, colorless, unaged liquor.  It’s name comes from Russia and means, “Water of life.”

Healthy Benefits

Many studies have linked higher consumption of cooked tomato products with reduced risk of prostate and other cancers.  Tomato products contains some B vitamins along with vitamin C.

Choosing whole wheat pasta adds more fiber per serving.

Shopping Tips

This sauce works equally well with whole wheat rigatoni, spaghetti or angel hair pasta.

I found that a tube of tomato paste is more convenient than canned when a recipe calls for just one tablespoon.  The tube is stored in the refrigerator for later uses.  You’ll find it in the pasta sauce section of most supermarkets.

You’ll love the price savings on Premium quality brands of vodka such as Belvedere or Grey Goose at Costco.

Serving Tip

Serve this main course pasta with my recipe,  Caesar Asparagus, Low in Calories, Big on Deliciousness!

Weight Watchers (old points) 7

Weight Watchers

SKINNY FACTS: for 1 serving
347 calories, 7g fat, 14g protein, 52g carbs, 7g fiber, 629mg sodium, 8g sugar
FAT FACTS: for 1 serving of Penne Alla Vodka at Sbarro
640 calories, 28g fat, 23g protein, 67g carbs, 5g fiber, 1,000mg sodium, 8g sugar