Pumpkin Vodka Sauce with Pasta

The vodka will lose most of its boozy excess after a minute or two of cooking and leave a bright flavor, but it can be replaced with vegetable broth (as well as chicken or beef). Use dairy-based Parmesan cheese if you prefer for a vegetarian meal.

  • 3 tbs Olive oil, extra virgin
  • 8 oz Cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 4 oz Tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup Vodka
  • 1 cup Pumpkin, canned puree
  • 3/4 cup Coconut milk, canned full-fat
  • 1 lb Rigatoni or other dry pasta shape
  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale, stemmed and roughly chopped or 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 2 tbs Thyme leaves, fresh
  • Vegan Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for garnish

1. Fill a large pot with water and heat over high. Salt and bring to a boil while you prep other ingredients.

2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large high-sided skillet at medium-high. Add mushrooms and onion; cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and nutmeg; cook 1 minute, until fragrant.

3. Add tomato paste and stir to coat veggies. Continue to cook, stirring often, until paste is deep red and starting to brown at the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes. Add vodka to deglaze pan, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Cook 1 to 2 minutes to allow some of the alcohol to evaporate.

4. Stir in pumpkin puree and coconut milk; reduce heat to low.

5. Once pasta water is boiling, add pasta and cook until almost al dente. Add kale during final minute of cooking.

6. Drain pasta and save at least 1 cup of pasta water.

7. Stir in pasta cooking water in half-cup increments until sauce turns smooth and glossy and coats pasta; 1 cup total may be enough. Stir in fresh thyme leaves and garnish with plant-based cheese or nutritional yeast. Season with additional salt, if needed.

Serves 6 | Prep Time 20-25 mins