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Pumpkin Pasta alla Vodka
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4.91 from 10 votes

Pumpkin Pasta alla Vodka

This pumpkin pasta alla vodka is an autumnal cousin to the classic pasta alla vodka. It has hints of nutmeg, pumpkin puree and tomato paste to give it a nutty, delicious flavor. 
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: pasta alla vodka, penne alla vodka
Servings: 4
Calories: 315kcal
Cost: $9


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree (*not pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese plus more as garnish
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold straight from the fridge)
  • 1 pound pasta of choice (I used rigatoni)
  • Crispy sage leaves as garnish


  • In a large saucepan, set over medium-low heat, add the olive oil. When warm, add the minced onion, garlic and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Pour in the tomato paste, along with the red pepper flakes, and cook it until the tomato paste turns a really dark red color, about 3 minutes. Add the vodka and let it sizzle and allow the vodka to cook off a bit, about 1 minute.
  • Pour in the pumpkin puree and mix it until smooth. Then, pour in the heavy cream and mix again. Turn off the sauce. Now, we’re gonna boil the pasta!
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. You want the water as salty as the sea. Pour in the pasta and cook it until about 1 minute shy of al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta.
  • Turn the heat up on the sauce to medium. Pour in 1/2 cup pasta water, along with the freshly grated nutmeg and grated Parmesan-Reggiano and give it a taste. Add salt to taste. I added a pinch or two. Pour in the pasta and then add in the cold butter. Mix it vigorously for 1 minute, until thick and luscious.
  • Garnish with grated Parmesan-Reggiano and some crispy sage leaves.


Tips and Tricks: 
  • I am an ardent fan of bronze-extruded pasta. I really don’t mess with the teflon extruded pasta, if I can help it. The difference is that bronze-extruded pasta was extruded by one made of bronze. This results in a really scratchy exterior that helps have a super starchy water. AND a lot of times, if it’s extruded with bronze, the care of making and drying the pasta is usually paid very close attention to. So, if you want the best version of this dish, use bronze-extruded pasta. RANT OVER!
  • When it comes to pumpkin puree, I’m not super picky. I think a lot of brands are wonderful. Libby is always a household favorite, i think Whole Foods brand has great pumpkin puree…and if you wanted to make your own, that would also be delicious.
  • To make crispy sage leaves, I like to add a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil OR neutral oil to a pan. Add the sage leaves and fry until crispy. Transfer them to a paper towel and set them aside until you’re ready to garnish. 


Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 199mg | Potassium: 418mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 10806IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 2mg