There’s no alcohol in my house. None, nothing at all.
But when I saw a penne alla vodka, I knew I wanted to make it and loads of it. But how was I going to do that if I wanted to avoid using alcohol? Why does it even have alcohol??
Vodka has a neutral flavoring and considering the fact that in smaller quantities it doesn’t provide much of a flavor, it gets all cooked off via evaporation by heat? Why add it in the first place? This was my first tackle as I considered making the penne alla vodka without the vodka, but without a substitute either. I didn’t know if I’d be missing a crucial reaction that created or enhanced some sort of flavor, but I still couldn’t put my finger as to why it was there in the first place.
Vodka’s purpose isn’t clear. So what’s the use? Well according to this article by chowhound, there is actually a reason! Remember how I mentioned the alcohol evaporates anyways by heat? Turns out its great for carrying the aromatics that you taste and smell and giving you that exploding amount of extra flavor. Also – reaction wise, it’s great as an emulsifier and bonding together water and fat. That’s why in dishes like penne alla vodka, you have that creamy and smooth texture.
That’s fabulous, but I still wanted to skip the vodka.
With a few hours of research and a few tries of developing this non-alcoholic penne alla vodka, I was able to come up with my new favorite pasta dish. I use the tang of lemon juice to replace the alcohol completely! I was able to still get amazing aromatics and still have that creamy texture, creating an amazing dish.
Now personally, I love a lemony and tangy dish, but I also can be more liberal with the amount. Add as more or less as you’d like to fit your flavoring!
Penne Alla Vodka (without the Vodka) Recipe
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 yellow onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tbsp oregano
- 3/4 cup of lemon juice
- 13 - 15 roma tomatos, diced
- 3/4 cup of penne pasta
- 1/2 cup of heavy cream
- 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to season
- 1/4 cup chopped basil
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- In an ovenproof skillet, warm-up olive oil, add onions and saute for a few minutes till translucent.
- Add garlic and oregano and continue to saute for another minute.
- Add lemon juice and continue to cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes.
- In the meantime, dice up the tomatoes. Once diced, add to the pan and continue to cook for five more minutes.
- Cover the pan with the fitted lid and switch to the oven, roasting for about 1.5 hrs.;
- Meanwhile, boil salted water for penne pasta and cook till al-dente. You want to keep the pasta from cooking til finish so that it can finish cooking in the sauce.
- Remove the tomatoes from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes, and then puree in a blender. Be careful not to overfill the blender, puree in batches if necessary.
- As soon as all of the sauce is mixed, add it into the pan and add cream. Cook together and allow cook for approximately 3 mins.
- Add parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper;
- Add pasta to the sauce, mixing properly, and continue cooking for another minute.
- Sprinkle with basil and parsley herbs, add more cheese, salt, and pepper (if needed) and serve right away.
Loads of us don’t drink alcohol, don’t have alcohol in our household, or simply may not want to waste vodka on a dish. Try this dish out and let me know what you think! Are there other alcohol substitutes to try? Let me know all about it!
And don’t forget to pin this for later!