This recipe is a tribute to my time in Baltimore. If there is a food that describes Baltimore, Maryland, it is most definitely crab. The crab meat added in at the very end of this recipe is precooked, and can be omitted if you prefer. The vodka sauce in this recipe is made with tomato paste, as opposed to sauce, which makes it luxuriously decadent and creamy.

A few tips to make this dish perfect for you: never throw out your pasta water! After transferring your pasta to your sauce to finish cooking, add pasta water 1/2 cup at a time until the pasta is cooked to your liking. The more water you add, the thinner the sauce – the less, the thicker! Parsley is an amazing herb to use in pasta because it provides a great crunchy texture to contrast with the smoothness of the pasta and sauce, but, basil works wonderfully as well! Always salt to taste, but tomato paste is concentrated and often includes salt in it already (check your labels!) Likewise, this recipe calls for 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, which also has a salty taste! The pasta water is salted as well, which is why this recipe doesn’t call for any additional salt.

I hope you enjoy this decadent pasta dish. Buon appetito!

Pappardelle alla Vodka

  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1/2 pound pappardelle pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup shallots, diced (1 large or 2 small)
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped and divided.
  • 1/2 pound crab meat (optional)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil to cook the pasta. Salt generously.
  2. When the water is boiling, add the pasta to the water to cook and begin the sauce. Set a large pan over a medium flame. Add the olive oil and red pepper flakes and allow to heat for about a minute. Add the onions and garlic. Stir and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. To the pan, add the vodka and allow to reduce, about 2-4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate all the ingredients. Reduce flame to low and add heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Transfer about 1/2 cup of pasta water to thin the sauce, mix and allow to simmer. *If adding crab meat, do so now.
  4. When pasta is slightly undercooked, transfer it to the sauce. Add another 1/2 cup of pasta water and toss, cooking until the pasta water is absorbed and pasta is cooked to your liking. Note: If the pasta water has absorbed but you would like your pasta to be cooked further, just add additional pasta water 1/2 cup a time.
  5. Add half of the parsley and toss to incorporate. Plate and garnish with additional parsley.

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