Spicy Sausage Pasta alla Vodka


Spicy Sausage Pasta alla Vodka

This recipe is inspired by my favorite dish at the restaurant, North Italia. I hope you love it too!
Servings 6


  • 8 ounces short-cut noodles of choice such as rotini, rigatoni or farfelle (can use GF)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound hot italian sausage
  • ½ yellow onion diced into ¼” pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 24 ounces tomato basil pasta sauce I like Rao’s the best
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste* sub 3 tablespoons ketchup and reduce brown sugar to 1 tablespoon
  • 2 tablespoons vodka (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • Freshly grated parmesan to taste


  • Cook noodles al dente (the lowest suggested time) according to package directions, with 1 teaspoon salt in the water. Set aside.
  • Heat a large, high-sided skillet or dutch oven to medium heat. Allow to heat one minute, then add sausage. Cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon or firm spatula, until golden brown around the edges, 8-10 minutes. Add meat to a heat-proof bowl.
  • Add ⅓ cup water and onions to the pan and stir to deglaze any brown bits from the bottom. Saute until onions are softened and translucent, 4-6 minutes, then add garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds.
  • Add pasta sauce, then add a splash of water to the jar, shake and pour that in as well. Add brown sugar, tomato paste, vodka (if using), remaining ½ teaspoon salt, oregano, basil, onion powder and a generous amount of black pepper. Stir to incorporate, then remove from heat. Wait 2 minutes, then stir in heavy cream, then sausage and noodles. Carefully, gently, fold to incorporate everything.
  • Add parmesan to taste and enjoy immediately! Leftovers will keep in the fridge up to 4 days. I do not recommend freezing, but you could make and freeze just the meat sauce.


*NOTE: buy tomato paste in a tube instead of a can so you can easily save it in the fridge for future use. You can also freeze it.
Course: Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: bolognese, comfort food, family dinner, Gluten Free, glutenfree, healthy dinner, healthy takeout, pasta alla vodka, spicy

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