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 serving

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

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23 Responses to “Magnifico, Skinny Penne Alla Vodka Sauce”

  1. Daniel@ The Food Addicts Says:

    Great recipe and the best part is you used grey goose.. Tasty!

  2. Hipolito M. Wiseman Says:

  3. water kettle guy Says:

    thanks for sharing your excellent post,wish you have a nice day.

  4. Miranda Hoglund Says:

    You without doubt have a style all your own when it comes to creating these nice blog posts.

  5. Christie @ Fig & Cherry Says:

    Oh yum, this sounds divine. Such a luscious way to consume vodka 🙂

  6. admin Says:

    Thanks Christie!

  7. Maris (In Good Taste) Says:

    This looks really good
    I am craving pasta right now as I read blogs – luckily it’s lunch time 🙂

  8. Barbara Says:

    Do you have the original recipe from Joanna’s Restaurant?
    I used to have it but lost it and would love a copy.

  9. Magnifico, Skinny Penne Alla Vodka Sauce | | Healthy RecipesHealthy Recipes Says:

    […] Click here for the full recipe! […]

  10. Louisa Carpenter Says:

    This looks delicious and I want to make it tonight. We don’t drink milk. Do you think this would turn out okay with almond milk? Can you recommend a non-dairy milk instead of regular milk? Thank you.

  11. admin Says:

    Sorry Louisa I didn’t get back to you right away. I’ve been out of town…I’ve never tried this recipe with almond milk before so I’m really not sure about how it would taste. I’ve made it with Lactaid milk and it worked just fine. If you do try it with almond milk, I’d love to hear how it turned out. Good luck Louisa!

  12. Melanie {Reasons To Skip The Housework} Says:

    This looks super yummy! Pinning! I’d love for you to come link this up at my Tuesday Time Out!
    Melanie Reasons To Skip The Housework

  13. admin Says:

    Melanie, thanks so much for pinning this recipe and for the invite! I just shared it at your Tuesday Time Out link party.
    All the best,

  14. Elizabeth Says:

    That’s awesome that something so yummy can be low-cal!

    I also want to invite you to join a roundup at my blog called Pantry Party. Basically, dishes that utilize ingredients found in the pantry are shared together and this month’s theme is pasta. I’d love if you shared either this dish or another!

  15. admin Says:

    Thanks so much Elizabeth for another invite! You sure keep busy with these terrific link parties. I’ll stop by and share a yummy pasta dish for sure!

  16. Jessica Says:

    I made this the other night and it was DELICIOUS. A little spicy with the pepper flakes so I will cut that down next time but it was so good. I can’t wait to make it again. Thanks so much!!

  17. admin Says:

    Thanks so much for your great feedback Jessica! Yes, if it’s a bit spicy for your taste, you can easily cut down the amount of red pepper flakes you add or leave them out altogether.
    Wishing you all the best,

  18. How to Make Vodka at Dinner Socially Acceptable: Penne Alla Vodka | climbing the crazy tree Says:

    […] recipe adapted from: Skinny Kitchen […]

  19. admin Says:

    You did a great job with my recipe and adding some of your changes.
    Thanks so much for sharing it!
    All the best,

  20. Jessica Desarro Says:

    I got 5 points for 5 servings when I used the WW site

  21. admin Says:

    Hi Jessica,
    That is so strange. I’m really not sure why you got a different points plus value than I did. To do the nutrition facts of my recipes, I use a program from SparkRecipes. Here’s the link to their site:
    Many of the specific ingredients I use, I input into their program.

    In addition, I calculate the Weight Watchers points from a site called Here’s the link to their site:

    I hope this helps.
    Best of luck to you,

  22. Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens Says:

    I love pasta with vodka sauce – any “pink sauce” really – and this version looks so fantastic! Of course I’m thrilled that it’s so much healthier, but also that it’s still flavorful and satisfying! Yum!

  23. admin Says:

    Thanks Shelley. I hope you thoroughly enjoy this lighter recipe. 🙂

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