Penne Pasta alla Vodka


Penne Pasta alla Vodka

May is Guest Chef Month on A Passionate Plate.

Today’s Guest Chef is Michelle (Barberio) Hyde: proud Italian-American girl/past neighbor and close friend of Joy’s. Together we have enJOYed many great meals, including one special girls’ night when the two of us finished off our dinner and bottle (or two) of wine and an entire box of Fran’s chocolates.

Post and Recipe by Michelle (Barberio) Hyde

Simply stated, pasta warms the heart.

This recipe is extra warming to my heart since it was prepared for me by a new acquaintance and colleague of my husbands’ at the time who had come over for a glass of wine after work, and before a late flight out of Seattle. I had known him for just over an hour when he asked, “Let’s just have dinner here, I’ll cook”. With one bottle of wine down, and a second opened, we enthusiastically obliged.

Ingredients for Penne Pasta alla Vodka
Our surprise guest chef (an Italian, originally from Philly) had whipped up this dish in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Not only was it just an impressively showy dish, but a very tasty one that is sure to please all parties. I am wishing you all a memorable and lovely experience at least once, to have a chef in your kitchen and to be a guest at your own table!

This recipe is one that I have prepared many times since, and always with great reception. I often accompany this meal with sliced Tuscan bread and a Caesar salad on whole romaine leaves and fresh parmesan, and a light and fluffy ricotta tart for dessert.

Buon Appetito! And thank you for the opportunity to be your guest “chef” this month.

Michelle (Barberio) Hyde

Penne Pasta alla Vodka
Recipe Type: Main Dish, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
  • 2 Tbsp. of corn oil (for pan)
  • 1 large shallot, about 2 ½ Tbsp, finely chopped
  • ¼ to ½ tsp. of crushed red pepper (to taste)
  • 1 c. whipping cream
  • 1 c. prepared pasta sauce
  • 2/3 c. vodka (dispensed from bottle, into open measuring cup)
  • 4 oz. imported prosciutto at room temp, sliced very thin and torn into lengthwise ribbons
  • 2/3 c. parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. of Italian parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. of fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 8 oz. rigatoni
  1. Bring salted water to boil for pasta, once to rolling boil, add pasta and cook for 9 mins or until al dente. Since this dish should be able to be made in the duration of the pasta cooking time, assure to have sauce pan heated at the same time as pasta is added to boiling water.
  2. Heat large sauté pan over medium-low heat, once heated, add oil, chopped shallots, and crushed red pepper sauté until shallots are translucent and just barely starting to brown. If shallots are browning rapidly, pan is too hot, reduce heat!! Once shallots are translucent, deglaze pan with vodka**.
  3. {** Please note that the vodka will flame and if pan is too hot, the flames will be very high and splatter oil out of pan; if heat is too low, vodka will not flame so have long-arm lighter handy to ignite. Flame at arm length and be very attentive. Use extreme caution to assure that you are pouring vodka rapidly into pan from a premeasured and open cup. Never pour from the bottle as flambé could trail into neck of bottle and explode.}
  4. Once flambé has subsided, add whipping cream to pan, bring to simmer (slow boil) until slight thickening occurs. Add prepared sauce and return to simmer.
  5. Check pasta for readiness, it should be close to done.
  6. Reduce heat of sauce pan to low and add parmesan and parsley to pan, stir until well mixed (should not clump) and should be the thickness of a now heavy whipping cream. Check for salt and pepper. Next add prosciutto ribbons laced and layered in pan in separated pieces, stir gently not to clump. Remove pasta from boiling pot with slotted spoon, mostly drained but still wet with pasta water, and add into sauté pan, fold in pasta slowly to coat thoroughly, add basil ribbons, and fold in slightly. Place into warmed serving bowl.



  1. Donna says:

    I made the Ziti alla Vodka last night for dinner. My husband usually does all the cooking. He loves to cook and was taught by his Italian grandmother. He enjoyed it so much that I had to go shopping again today so that he could make it for tonight’s dinner. Two nights in a row. I have to admit mine was better. I followed the recipe step by step. He did it by memory.

  2. Michelle says:

    THanks Joy! I so enjoyed doing this project and hope to be invited back! I hope your readers and fans enjoy as well!
    Thank you JOy for letting be a part of this fun recipe. I hope your readers enjoy it as much as I have over the years!

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