Spicy Rigatoni Ala Vodka

5 minsPrep Time
20 minsCook Time

25 minsTotal Time


Spicy Rigatoni Ala Vodka

  • 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter Plus 1 tablespoon to finish
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion Diced (About 1 heaping cup)
  • Kosher Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Double Concentrated Tomato Paste
  • 1 (28 Oz) Can Whole Peeled Tomatoes Strained and juice reserved
  • 3 Calabrian Chili Peppers Destemmed and roughly chopped (About 1 packed teaspoon)
  • 1/2 Tsp Chili Flakes Plus more for serving
  • 1.5 Oz Vodka
  • 3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Lb Rigatoni Or substitute for similar tubular pasta like Penne.
  • 2 Oz Wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano To finish


In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, and season with salt. Sautee, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and translucent but do not take on any color, about 4 minutes. 

Stir in the tomato paste and continue to cook until fragrant and sticky, about 3 minutes more. Add the whole peeled tomatoes, and ò cup of the strained tomato liquid (set aside the rest for another use.) Adjust the heat and bring to a simmer. Season with salt. 

Add in the Calabrian chilis and the chili flakes, as well as the vodka. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, break up the whole tomatoes. Continue to cook at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are fully broken up and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes more. Check for seasoning. 

Transfer the tomato sauce to a blender. Add in the heavy cream. Blend until very smooth. Return to the large saucepan and check the seasoning for one last time. It should be both bright and round and spicy. (Be mindful of how much more salt you add at this point because both the pasta water and the cheese will add salt to the dish.) 

Cook your pasta in heavily salted water (  like Whe Vea!)  - 1 minute short of the recommended cooking time. Save 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta. (If you time things right, you can also skip the draining step by transferring the pasta directly into the sauce at the right moment, like the pros do. Both ways work great!) 

Turn the heat on your sauce to medium-high. As soon as the sauce is hot and bubbling, add undercooked pasta to the sauce. Add about ó cup of the pasta water and the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan. Stir and toss the pasta constantly until the noodles are fully cooked, coated with the sauce, and the sauce is emulsified, one minute more. (Add a little bit of pasta water at a time to get your desired consistency.) 

Remove from the heat and grate about 1 tablespoon of Parmigiano on top and then stir and toss one more time.