Rich and creamy vegan vodka sauce is a favorite way to take your weekly pasta night up a notch! This version is entirely nut free!
This post was originally published on April 20, 2015. This post contains affiliate links.
Pasta with Vegan Vodka Sauce
This Pasta with Vegan Vodka Sauce recipe is long overdue for a makeover. It’s one that I came up with years ago….and really loved. But, as food blogger life goes, I didn’t get around to making it after a while because I was busy coming up with new recipes. Recently I stumbled upon it as I was searching my site (yep, I use my site as my own resource EVERY day—that’s why I actually started this blog almost 7 years ago!) and remembered how good it was….and saw how in need of new pictures it was! I put it on my blogging schedule and I’m SO glad I did! It’s so much better than I ever remembered! The boys were licking their plates clean, and Irving was happy to hear that I’d made enough for two dinners! It’s seriously delicious, and it’s about time it gets back into circulation!
What is Pasta with Vodka Sauce?
A few years ago my sister mentioned that she was going to make Pasta with Vodka Sauce for dinner. We both were wondering what the purpose for the vodka was, so later that night I looked up a recipe for it in my Everyday Italian cookbook by Giada De Laurentiis. Vodka is added to a creamy tomato sauce, usually made creamy by heavy dairy cream. She explains that the vodka cuts through the creaminess and gives it a little bit of kick (not spice, just a “kick”—I can’t do it justice with a description!).
Too much Vodka!
The first time I made Pasta with Vodka Sauce I followed the recipe mentioned above. Convinced by my mom that the alcohol would cook off and it would be safe for the boys, I proceeded with adapting and creating the recipe, using the called for amount of 1 CUP of vodka (to my mom’s credit, I didn’t tell her how much it called for). What was I thinking? One taste and I knew it wasn’t going anywhere near the boys—it was like a bad Bloody Mary. Irving and I powered through and ate 1 serving each and promptly threw the rest in the trash. Ugh. But I knew I was on to something. The hemp cream was SO delicious, and the marinara sauce was too. I was so mad at myself for ruining it with the vodka, but determined to make it work. The next time around I used 2 T of vodka and it was perfect. So much better. A subtle kick, but totally safe for the whole family to eat, which we did.
Most vegan recipes for Vodka Sauce use cashew cream. Due to Jonny’s allergies we are a nut free house, so I created a savory hemp cream and it. is. AWESOME. Hemp seeds are one of my favorite ingredients, and they are packed with good-for-you nutrients too!
Smooth and Creamy!
I use two “gadgets” to make this recipe easy! I use my Vitamix to blend the hemp cream. It’s so easy to get a super smooth cream, and then I run it through a piece of cheesecloth to make it even smoother! I could use the Vitamix to blend the tomato sauce as well, but it’s a bit messy to transfer the hot sauce into the blender jar. Instead I use my immersion blender. We received this handheld blender as a wedding gift and we have been using it ever since. It’s a great little tool to have in the kitchen, and it doesn’t take up much room either!
Pasta gets a bad rap from armchair nutritionists, but it is an awesome delivery system for all kinds of vegetables! My kids scarf down pasta, though they aren’t nearly as eager to eat a bowl of fresh veggies. My new favorite pasta is Bucatini! It’s a straw shaped long pasta—seriously—a teeny tiny hole runs all the way through it. Its hearty chew lends itself well to the richness of this sauce, plus it’s just really fun to eat! It’s a less common shape, but the brand I used in the pictures in Barilla, so it should be fairly easy to find. It’s part of their “Collezione” which is fancy speak for collection….of pasta! Lots of other brands make it as well—just peek around in your grocery store pasta aisle!
I hope your family enjoys this Pasta with Vegan Vodka Sauce as much as we do! While it’s a perfect pasta meal to keep on your regular rotation, there’s also something extra special about it. It makes a delicious meal for a romantic dinner, a la Lady and the Tramp! It’s also a great meal to serve for company—you can make the sauce ahead of time and just warm it up when you’re ready to serve! Leave me a note in the comments below and let me know how it goes!
Pasta with Vodka Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- 2 dry bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt plus more if needed
- 1/2 cup water to thin as needed/desired
- 2 Tablespoons plain vodka
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds
- 1 cup water
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- Heat olive oil in a large pot.
- Add diced onions, carrot, and celery. Saute until onion is well browned and translucent.
- Add garlic and lightly brown.
- Add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, basil leaves, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, until carrots are soft and easily pierced with a fork. (This may take longer than 20 minutes, depending on how large your carrot pieces are.)
- In the meantime prepare the cream sauce. Place all cream sauce ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Pour the cream through a cheesecloth or nut milk bag to remove any grittiness from the seeds. Set aside while the marinara sauce simmers.
- Turn off heat on the marinara sauce and add the hemp cream.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce completely. Alternately, carefully transfer to a blender (in batches depending on blender size) to blend and then return the sauce to the pot.
- I like to add about 1/2 cup of hot water to thin out the sauce, but if you like a chunkier sauce you can omit this.
- Whisk in the vodka and sugar, and return the sauce to simmer for 10 + minutes.
- Serve over pasta! This makes enough sauce for about two pounds of pasta—leftover sauce can be frozen for a future meal!