Vegan Penne Alla Vodka from Kate Friedman's 5-Ingredient Vegan Cooking
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by Kate Friedman | Hervivore's Kitchen

This Vegan Penne Alla Vodka recipe is an exclusive from Kate Friedman’s new cookbook
5-ingredient Vegan Cooking: 60 Approachable Plant-based Recipes with a Few Ingredients and Lots of Flavor. Click here to find out where you can purchase a copy of the book.

Disclaimer: the cookbooks we feature are independently selected by our Best of Vegan editors and are in no way sponsored by the author and/or the publisher. All content is used with permission.

Kate Friedman is the blogger behind Herbivore’s Kitchen. She has worked with brands like Lotus Foods and Maya Kaimal and has been featured in Thrive magazine. Kate lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Vegan Penne Alla Vodka from Kate Friedman's 5-Ingredient Vegan Cooking

Vegan Penne Alla Vodka from Kate Friedman's 5-Ingredient Vegan Cooking

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I used to wonder why cooks took the extra step of adding vodka to a tomato sauce. Was it worth all the fuss? As it turns out, the answer is yes. Taste vodka sauce next to any other tomato sauce and you’ll immediately notice that vodka sauce is more complex and flavorful. I made this savory sauce vegan-friendly by swapping out Parmesan cheese for a couple tablespoons (10 g) of nutritional yeast and traditional heavy cream for coconut milk. Don’t worry, as the coconut milk cooks alongside the acidic tomato paste, the coconut flavor mellows out, leaving just a hint of sweetness.
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Author: Kate Friedman | Herbivore’s Kitchen


  • 3 tbsp 45 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup 160 g yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp 9 g minced garlic (See Recipe Note)
  • 5 oz 142 g tomato paste 1/4 cup (60 ml) vodka
  • 5 oz 148 ml full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp 10 g nutritional yeast
  • 1 lb 454 g penne pasta
  • Fresh basil torn (optional)


  • Add the olive oil to a large, deep-sided skillet. Turn the burner on to medium and heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and salt and reduce the heat to medium-low. Sauté the onion until it becomes golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. 
  • Add the tomato paste and increase the heat to medium. Sauté the tomato paste until it becomes dark red, 2 to 3 minutes. 
  • Remove the sauce from the heat and add the vodka, coconut milk and nutritional yeast. Stir until combined and return the pan to the burner. Bring to a simmer and allow the vodka to cook off, about 30 minutes. 
  • Cook the pasta in accordance with the package directions. Reserve 1 cup (240 ml) of pasta water. It can be used to thin the vodka sauce if necessary. If the sauce becomes too thick, add the pasta water 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) at a time. 
  • Add the cooked pasta directly into the finished sauce and stir to coat. Season with fresh basil, if desired. 


Two large cloves of garlic are about equal to 1 tablespoon (9 g) of minced garlic.
Find more of Kate's recipes at Herbivore’s Kitchen.
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Vegan Penne Alla Vodka from Kate Friedman's 5-Ingredient Vegan Cooking

Reprinted with permission from 5-Ingredient Vegan Cooking by Kate Friedman, Page Street Publishing Co. 2021. Photo credit: Kate Friedman.
5-Ingredient Vegan Cooking by Kate Friedman book cover
Click here or on the photo above to get your copy.

About the Book

A Handful of Ingredients, Endless Flavorful Vegan Meals

Vegan cooking is simple and straightforward with Kate Friedman’s delicious plant-based recipes. Using just a few high-quality kitchen staples, you can whip up a brunch that’ll please a crowd, get dinner on the table pronto or find the perfect healthy snack to keep you full between meals―all while skipping processed or hard-to-find ingredients.

Dinnertime favorites like Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Browned Butter Sauce & Crispy Sage and One-Pot Sun-Dried Tomato & Chickpea Stew use techniques like browning butter and toasting tomato paste to add a little extra oomph and make the most of each ingredient. Nutritious options like Roasted Beet & Farro Salad and One-Pot Asparagus & White Bean Soup make the perfect lunch or light dinner. And don’t forget about dessert! Kate uses vegan favorites like tofu, chickpeas and chia seeds to make the perfect sweet treat for the end of your day in recipes like Minimalist Chocolate-Espresso Mousse and Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

With tips and tricks for building the perfect vegan pantry to accompany mouthwatering recipes, Kate makes plant-based cooking easier and more accessible than ever.

If you loved this Vegan Penne Alla Vodka…

Stay tuned for more exclusive recipes from 5-Ingredient Vegan Cooking! In the meantime, you could check out more delicious vegan pasta recipes!

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