This Vegan Pasta alla Vodka recipe, a deliciously creamy tomato vodka sauce swirled into pasta, is the healthy midweek dinner idea you didn't know you needed. But you most definitely do need. The alcohol cooks out, but you are left with a bright, tomato-enhancing sauce.
First of all make the oat cream if it isn't purchased. Add the oats, oat milk, water, salt and oil to a high speed blender and process until completely smooth. Set aside. You won't be using it all, so have some in coffee! It will keep for a couple of days in the fridge - shake it before using.
Cook the pasta according to directions - bear in mind that you will be using some of the pasta water to thin the sauce.
Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over a medium heat; add the onions, garlic, rosemary and chilli flakes. Sauté for five minutes.
Squeeze in the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it starts to stick a bit on the bottom - about five minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the vodka, stirring out any tomatoey lumps. Turn down the heat.
Take out about 100 mls (1/2 cup) of pasta water from the boiling pasta and pour into a heatproof jug. Now add 180 ml (3/4 cup) of the oat cream, stirring with a fork or whisk to amalgamate - it may seem a bit stringy at first, but it will blend to a cream. Or you could blend it in your blender of course. If using dairy cream, cut the pasta water back to 1/4 cup (60 ml).
Add the oat cream-water to the tomato sauce and stir well. Add in the grated cheese, if using. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if you wish.
Bring the sauce back up to the gentlest of simmers and add cooked, drained pasta. Stir well to combine. If the sauce seems a little thick, add more pasta water or hot water, or even olive oil. Every piece of pasta should be coated in the glossy, terracotta-tinted sauce.
Serve divided between four bowls, topping with extra cheese, some olive oil, more chilli, and parsley if you like. Or, try one of the topping suggestion below. Or a combination of them.
1 Brussels sprouts and garlic chips. Halve baby Brussels sprouts (or shred some kale) and stir fry in hot olive oil until softened; add thinly sliced garlic and cook until golden.
2 Eggplant and panko crumbs. Dice one half of a medium-sized eggplant and sauté in oil until starting to brown. Add in a handful of breadcrumbs or panko crumbs as well as chilli flakes, and cook until golden, stirring .
3 Burst tomatoes and olives. Heat olive oil and when hot add washed cherry tomatoes, cooking until they start to burst. Add in torn oil-cured black olives and cook until slightly crisped.
This recipe may be reheated. Do so gently, adding in a splash of water and mixing well.
There plenty of vegan creams on the market, but this homemade oat one is so easy that it's worth a try. Make it suitable for sweet foods by adding a little pure vanilla extract.
Vegan cheeses are often hit or miss. If you don't like what's available to you, use nutritional yeast (about 1/4 cup), or skip it all together. If you skip it I would recommend adding a few smashed, pitted oil-cured black olives to up the flavour. Or even add it to the cheese version! But mind the extra sodium.
This recipe was inspired by the tomato paste-based vodka sauces over on Bon Appetit.