Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Sausage is such an easy weeknight meal. This recipe is perfect when you are craving something comforting and tasty, but easy to make. This week has been really busy. But the night I made this, I was able to get an amazing dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes!
Vodka sauce is one of our favorite Italian restaurant dishes. When I served this last week, my husband said that this meal was definitely restaurant quality! That is high praise coming from someone that loves vodka sauce as much as he does! Every home cook needs to have a recipe in their arsenal that they can rely on to deliver that kind of response! Another quick but delicious recipe that will get high praise is Caprese Pasta with Fresh Mozzarella.
Why you should make Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Sausage
I can think of a number of reasons why pasta with vodka sauce and sausage should be on your rotation for weeknight meals:
- It is easy to make
- It can be done in less then 30 minutes
- It appeals to almost everyone…who doesn’t love vodka sauce
- It calls for simple ingredients
- It is absolutely delicious!
Vodka sauce is actually made by adding vodka to a basic tomato sauce. The sauce is reduced a bit to allow the vodka to cook off and then cream and grated cheese are stirred in to finish it off. It is a simple process which brightens the flavor of the tomato and creates a silky sauce.
f you have ever wondered if the addition of vodka really makes a difference to the flavor of the sauce, it does! The Food Lab at Serious Eats did a taste test and determined that not only does it change the flavor of the sauce, but the ratio of vodka to tomato sauce and the cooking time also impact the results.
Ingredients you will need
The addition of Italian sausage creates a hearty comforting meal. I like to use sweet Italian sausage, but if you want some spice in your sauce, you can use hot sausage instead. Either way, the sauce will have a sweet savory essence from the meat and fennel that just amps up the other flavors in the sauce.
You can use any pasta shape you like. I love this long ribbon shaped pasta called Mafaldine. The long ribbons are perfect for holding a hearty sauce and it is fun to eat!
Onions and Garlic
You can’t make sauce without onions and garlic. They are flavor essentials! Dice the onions and mince the garlic so you get the flavor but don’t even know they are there.
The crushed tomatoes will make the sauce a little thicker and heartier then using puree. I love the texture they add to this sauce and they hold up well to the chunks of sausage.
You don’t need to use an expensive vodka but you should definitely use something that you enjoy drinking. The vodka will be fragrant and does impact the flavor of the sauce, so just like adding wine to a recipe, make sure you the like the taste of the vodka you are using.
Half and Half
The sauce will be pretty hearty with the crushed tomatoes and the sausage, so you don’t need to use heavy cream here. I like the creamy silkiness that half and half creates and it is just thick enough for this sauce.
Basil really finishes off this dish. It really brightens up the sauce!
Pecorino Romano Cheese
I am partial to the sharp, salty, rich flavor of the pecorino romano. Pecorino Romano is a sheep’s milk cheese primarily used for grating. It is one of the oldest cheeses of the Roman region. You will find it in recipes such as Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe, and Bucatini all’Amatriciana.
How to make pasta with vodka sauce and sausage
Begin making pasta with vodka sauce and sausage by browning sausage in a large skillet until it is crumbled and no longer pink. Dice onions and garlic and add them to the skillet. Cook them until fragrant and tender.
Add crushed tomatoes to the sausage and cook the sauce for several minutes. Stir in the vodka and cook for about 7-10 more minutes. The sauce will reduce and the alcohol from the vodka will cook off. If you skip this importance step, the sauce will be bitter. So make sure that you give the sauce some time to simmer.
Stir half and half and grated Pecorino Romano cheese in to the sauce. Salt and pepper the sauce to taste and finish it with some chopped fresh basil.
What type of pasta do you serve with vodka sauce with sausage?
You can serve this sauce over your favorite pasta. The most common pasta served with vodka sauce is penne, but I used mafaldine, which holds the sauce beautifully in it’s ribbons. Rigatoni, spaghetti and rotini are other shapes that hold the sauce well.
What desserts pair well with Pasta with vodka sauce and sausage?
A hearty Italian meal like this, needs a light Italian dessert to top it off. Try one of these fabulous desserts:
Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Sausage
- 1 lb. Italian Sausage Casings removed
- ⅔ cup Onion Diced
- 2 cloves Garlic Minced
- 28 oz. Crushed Tomatoes
- ¼ cup Vodka
- ¾ Cup Half and Half
- ¼ cup Pecorino Romano Cheese Grated
- 2 tbsp Basil fresh, chopped
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 lb Pasta
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Generously salt the water. Stir the pasta often to keep it from sticking. Cook according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Cook the sausage until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
- Add the onion to the sausage and cook it until it is tender, about 2 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant about 2 more minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour the vodka in to the sauce and cook on medium heat for 7-10 minutes. The sauce should reduce and thicken.
- Reduce the heat and add the half and half and grated romano cheese. Stir until the sauce is creamy and reddish pink in color. Salt and Pepper to taste and sprinkle with fresh basil.
- Strain the pasta and transfer it back to the pot or a large serving bowl. Add 2-3 ladle fulls of sauce to the pasta and mix making sure to coat all of the pasta. Divide the pasta between 4 bowls and top with additional sauce.