Cooking with Crystal's Chef Jon Ashton: Penne Alla Vodka

This classically comforting pasta dish will satisfy and impress any palate.

Book by Apr 21, 2021

While you daydream of returning to Italy’s coastlines and ancient cities, overflowing with art, history and sun-drenched meals al fresco, why don't you cook up this traditional Italian recipe. The timeless ingredients and techniques for which Italy is famous are also highlights of meals shared aboard Crystal Cruises in the regionally inspired Prego restaurants.


Penne Alla Vodka | By Chef Jon Ashton



1 tablespoon olive oil

4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes 

1 32-ounce jar tomato sauce (Rao’s or Victoria) or 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

½ cup vodka

1 teaspoon dried oregano 

¾ cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper

1 pound penne pasta 

⅓ cup minced fresh basil

Parmesan cheese



Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Meanwhile, heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the sliced garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add tomato sauce and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Add vodka. Bring sauce to boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in oregano and cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste; cover and keep warm.


Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve ¼ cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot. Toss sauce and basil with pasta, adding reserved pasta water as needed. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.


At Crystal, it is our passion to bring you life-enhancing experiences through the wonder of travel. Across the world's great oceans, along the grand rivers of Europe and into iconic yachting harbors and remote destinations by expedition, we are dedicated to creating the best vacation for each guest. Come travel with us to discover why the Crystal Experience has received more World's Best and Readers' Choice awards than any other cruise line in history... and make award-winning memories of your own.

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