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  • Writer's pictureNikki Bidun

Classic Rigatoni à la Vodka

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

This is one you know and love and sometimes classics are just what you need. Worthy for a 20 minute weeknight dinner, or a post W celebration meal.

Sometimes after a hard practice all you need is a warm bowl of pasta--this is the recipe for you. Familiar, classic and delicious!

For a fun variation or a quick meal, try Beans à la Vodka!

If you've ever heard of the famous Gigi Hadid pasta, this is basically it. My version is without the vodka and served with a Caesar salad to seal the deal. I've used multiple noodles with this before and they all work well, but finding something with grooves or hole is best so the sauce can cling on. This recipe also works with lentil/chickpea/gluten-free pastas, just alter the boiling time accordingly.

This is also a cook-to-impress meal. The flavor and comfort from a bowl of pasta is always great when cooking for someone special, and it is simple to prepare.

I rarely make Caesar salads because of the amount of ingredients, so I either purchase one from my local sandwich shop, or buy greens and dressing.

Dietary Information

This recipe is vegetarian-- if serving vegetarian and with Caesar salad be sure the dressing does not include anchovies.


Rigatoni à la Vodka

Makes 2 portions with leftovers

20 minutes (not including boiling water)


- 1/2 box rigatoni (8 oz) or other shaped pasta

- 3 tbsp olive oil

- 2 cloves garlic, crushed not chopped

- 1/2 onion, finely chopped (or ground in the food processor)

- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

- 3 heaping tbsp tomato paste

- 1/4 cup heavy cream

- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

- Caesar salad for serving

  1. Boil a large pot of water. Salt with much more salt than you think necessary, it should taste like the ocean.

  2. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the 3 tbsp olive oil on medium-high heat. Add 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 chopped onion and 1 tsp red pepper flakes, if using. Cook until onion is translucent- about 3 minutes.

  3. In the meantime, start boiling your 1/2 lb pasta according to package directions. Subtract 1 minute from the time directed because your pasta will cook in the sauce as well.

  4. Add 3 heaping tbsp tomato paste to the saucepan. Try to spread it in a thin layer touching to pan so it can caramelize. This will add extra flavor to your sauce. Cook for 3 minutes

  5. Turn the heat to low and mix in 1/4 cup heavy cream into the saucepan until the sauce is smooth and a uniform color. Turn off your pan.

  6. When pasta is cooked save 1 cup of pasta water in a measuring cup, then drain and place noodles in the saucepan.

  7. At this point, mix in your 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and mix noodles with sauce until nicely coated. If you notice your sauce is too thick, add in saved pasta water as needed. If it is too thin, turn the heat to low and mix until desire consistency is reached.

  8. Serve with Caesar salad and extra cheese and enjoy!

Beans à la Vodka Variation

All you do in this variation is replace the pasta with one can of butter beans. Drain and rinse one 1 9 oz can of butter beans or any other white bean. Follow steps 2-5 (eliminating the part where you boil pasta) for making the sauce. Then add in your beans and 1/4 cup of water or broth. Cover and cook for 3 minutes until beans are tender. Add in cream and Parmesan and stir until combined. Serve and enjoy!

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