A couple of weeks ago my sister mentioned that she was going to make Pasta with Vodka Sauce for dinner. I don’t think I’ve ever had vodka sauce, and now I certainly don’t as it’s traditionally made with cream. 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. 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). I was curious, so I decided to try my own, using a hemp cream (since Jonathan can’t have the nuts).
Convinced by my mom that the alcohol would cook off and it would be fine for the boys, I proceeded with adapting 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.
I served this to the boys and David asked “Mommy, is this that alcohol sauce you made? Because you said that alcohol makes grown ups tired and I don’t want to be tired.” Mommy of the year—I served my kids “alcohol sauce.” I actually think that this would be just delicious without the vodka too if you’re not feeling adventurous, but I promise it’s very subtle!
Side note/rant: Do you feel like everyone you know starts giving you health and nutrition advice the second they hear that you’re vegan? Apparently while I was busy studying to become a teacher everyone else was getting their nutrition degrees. I mentioned pasta to someone the other day and she immediately started warning me about how pasta was nutritionally void, and that it was just like eating bread every day (ooh, the horror!). I’m not saying that it’s a superfood, but my family does love pasta. I checked, and my white wheat (gluten full) pasta weighs in with a whopping 6 g of protein per serving—not too shabby! And since I use it as a delivery system for all kinds of veggies hidden in my sauces I’m not stressing over it. It’s not like we actually eat it every day.
Anyway, serve this sauce over whatever pasta you like, or with veggies, or spaghetti squash—whatever floats your boat. It’s delicious, and I think your whole family is going to love it!
Pasta with Vodka Sauce
Marinara sauce (you could sub store bought, but homemade is worth it!):
2 T olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium yellow onion (or substitute 1 T onion powder), roughly chopped
1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 18 ounce (+ or -) jar crushed tomatoes
2 T tomato paste
6 fresh basil leaves
2 dry bay leaves
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t salt (plus more if needed)
water to thin as needed/desired
1-2 T plain vodka, optional but yummy
Hemp Cream Sauce:
1/4 c hemp seeds
1 c water
1 clove garlic
1/2 t salt
1/2 t 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. Turn off heat and use an immersion blender to 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. If your sauce seems really thick you could thin with water, or you could wait until after you add the cream and thin to your preference. Add the vodka and return the sauce to simmer for 10 + minutes.
In the meantime prepare the cream sauce. Place all cream sauce ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. For best results, pour the cream through a cheesecloth or nut milk bag to remove any grittiness from the seeds. Pour the cream into the tomato sauce and mix well. Allow to simmer for a few more minutes to incorporate flavors.
Pour on top of your favorite pasta and serve!
I love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below, on my facebook wall or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow me on Instagram, via email (subscribe on the right of the screen), Twitter, Pinterest, or Bloglovin’ to make sure you don’t miss a post!