Spicy Rigatoni Vodka

Serves 2 People

Spicy Rigatoni Vodka is a spicy pasta dish recipe, great as a starter, pasta course (after the starter, but before the main course) or main course.

I found the recipe on the Internet (I no longer have the link), and have adapted it a little, partly because the original author doesn't seem to know the difference between tablespoons (tbs.) and teaspoons (tsp.).

The purpose of the vodka in this recipe is to emulsify the sauce (mainly the cream and butter).

This dish is much better than Penne al Arabiata, although it takes longer to prepare.

Cooking Time:

40 minutes


2, for a main course, 4 for a starter



  1. Melt a ¼-cup of butter in saucepan over low heat. Add the sliced onion and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the ¼ cup of water and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat, cover and gently simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft and translucent. Add a little more water if the onions start to dry out.
  3. In separate pan, place canned tomatoes, 1 tsp. of salt, olive oil, chili flakes or paste, vodka, the remaining ¼-cup of butter and cream. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. While sauce simmers, cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente (Italian for “to the tooth”). Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining rigatoni.
  5. Add the cooked onions to the creamy tomato sauce base; stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
  6. Add the cooked pasta, the ½ cup of Parmesan cheese and a generous splash of pasta liquid to the sauce. Toss the mixture until pasta is fully coated in sauce (the sauce should also get inside the pasta tubes). Add more pasta water or cheese if needed.
  7. Serve garnished with the remainder of the grated Parmesan and the chopped herbs.