What To Serve With Penne Alla Vodka

What To Serve With Penne Alla Vodka

Penne Alla Vodka is a classic Italian pasta dish that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Creamy, rich, and flavorful, this dish is perfect for a romantic date night or a family dinner. However, to complete the perfect meal, you need to know what dishes and drinks to pair with this delicious pasta. In this guide, we will explore the ideal accompaniments to penne alla vodka, enhancing its flavors and turning your meal into an unforgettable dining experience.

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The Perfect Side Dishes

Garlic Bread or Bruschetta

By pairing Penne Alla Vodka with garlic bread or bruschetta, you can add a refreshing crunch to the palate and enjoy the contrasting flavors. The creaminess of the vodka sauce and the flavorful garlic work together harmoniously to create a delightful experience.

Caesar Salad

Opting for a fresh Caesar salad with crisp romaine lettuce, creamy dressing, croutons, and parmesan cheese is another great choice. It adds a lighter component to your meal that is both satisfying and contrasting to the rich pasta.

Roasted Vegetables

Simple roasted seasonal vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, or asparagus can work as a delicious and vibrant addition to the plate. The caramelization and natural sweetness of the roasted veggies balance out the savory and creamy penne.

Grilled Chicken or Shrimp

To add some protein to your meal, grilled chicken or shrimp can be an excellent choice. Marinate them with Italian herbs, garlic, and lemon before grilling, and you'll have a perfectly seasoned protein to complement Penne Alla Vodka.

Drink Pairings

Vodka-Based Cocktails

Considering the name of the dish, it's only natural to pair it with vodka-based cocktails. Choose a refreshing option like Moscow Mule, a classic Martini, or refer to Vodka Doctors for a more sophisticated vodka cocktail recipe to create a consistent theme throughout your meal.

White Wine

A crisp and refreshing white wine can be the perfect pairing for a creamy pasta dish like penne alla vodka. Opt for Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or a light Chardonnay to complement the dish's flavors without overpowering them.

Sparkling Water with Lemon

If you prefer a non-alcoholic option, sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon is an ideal choice. It provides a refreshing beverage that cleanses the palate between bites of the rich pasta, enhancing the overall dining experience.

What To Serve With Penne Alla Vodka Example:

Imagine hosting a dinner party with the following menu:


  • Bruschetta with fresh tomatoes, basil, and a balsamic glaze

Main Course:

  • Penne Alla Vodka
  • Grilled lemon-herb chicken
  • Roasted seasonal vegetables


  • Caesar salad with homemade croutons and shaved parmesan


  • Classic martinis or Moscow Mules
  • Chilled Sauvignon Blanc
  • Sparkling water with lemon wedges

Your guests will enjoy a beautifully paired and delicious meal, enhancing the flavors of the star dish - Penne Alla Vodka.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is penne alla vodka?

Penne alla vodka is a rich, creamy tomato-based pasta dish, which features penne pasta and is enhanced with vodka and a touch of heavy cream. The alcohol in the vodka helps to release flavors in the tomato sauce that are otherwise not as distinct, adding a depth of flavor to the dish.

Can I make penne alla vodka without vodka?

Yes, you can make a variation of the dish without vodka, though it won't have the distinctive flavor notes that the alcohol provides. Instead, you can add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to mimic the sharp undertones that vodka adds to the sauce.

Is penne alla vodka appropriate for children?

Typically, the alcohol in the vodka evaporates during the cooking process, leaving only the flavor behind. However, if you are concerned about serving it to children, you may opt for the non-alcoholic version or ensure the sauce is thoroughly cooked to remove alcohol content.

What protein can I serve with penne alla vodka?

Grilled or baked chicken breast, shrimp, or Italian sausage are excellent proteins to serve alongside or mixed into penne alla vodka. They complement the creamy tomato sauce well, adding both texture and flavor.

Are there any vegetarian options to serve with penne alla vodka?

For a vegetarian option, consider adding roasted or sautéed vegetables such as zucchini, mushrooms, or bell peppers. You could also serve it with a side of garlic bread or a fresh green salad.

What kind of salad pairs well with penne alla vodka?

A crisp arugula salad with a lemony vinaigrette or a classic Caesar salad makes for a refreshing counterpoint to the rich and creamy pasta dish.

Can penne alla vodka be made gluten-free?

Yes, by using gluten-free penne pasta and ensuring that any other ingredients added to the dish are gluten-free, you can easily adapt penne alla vodka to suit a gluten-free diet.

How can I add a spicy kick to penne alla vodka?

Incorporate crushed red pepper flakes into the sauce while you cook it, or sprinkle them over the top before serving for a spicy twist.

What type of bread should I serve with penne alla vodka?

A crusty baguette, garlic bread, or focaccia complements the creamy sauce nicely, providing a lovely texture contrast and a means to sop up any remaining sauce.

Does penne alla vodka pair well with wine?

Yes, penne alla vodka pairs delightfully with wine. Consider a medium-bodied white wine like Chardonnay or a light red wine like Pinot Noir to complement the dish.

What herbs can I garnish penne alla vodka with?

Classic herbs for garnishing include fresh basil, parsley, or even a sprinkling of chopped chives to enhance the flavor and add a pop of color.

Can I serve penne alla vodka as a main course?

Definitely! Penne alla vodka is substantial enough to serve as a main course. Pair it with one or two sides for a complete meal.

Is there a preferred type of penne pasta for alla vodka?

While any penne pasta will work, penne rigate with ridges is often preferred as it helps the sauce cling to the pasta better. Whole wheat or gluten-free penne can also be used based on dietary needs.

How can I make penne alla vodka more health-conscious?

To make a lighter version, you can use whole wheat pasta, substitute heavy cream with half-and-half or even a non-dairy alternative, and add more vegetables to increase fiber and nutrient content.

What are some quick sides to serve with penne alla vodka?

Quick side dishes could include a simple mixed greens salad, steamed broccoli, or garlic sautéed spinach. These sides are not only quick to prepare but also provide a nutritious balance.

Can I incorporate seafood directly into the penne alla vodka?

Yes, seafood such as shrimp, scallops, or salmon can be added directly into the sauce just a few minutes before the dish is finished cooking to create a delightful seafood pasta dish.

What cheese complements penne alla vodka?

Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese grated over the top of the pasta is a common and delightful addition that complements the creamy sauce. For a more mellow flavor, you could also use fresh mozzarella.

How can I prevent the sauce from being too thin?

To prevent a thin sauce, ensure that you allow the sauce to simmer and thicken before adding the penne. You can also add a small amount of pasta water to the sauce, as the starches help thicken it.

Is there a dairy-free alternative to the cream in penne alla vodka?

Yes, for a dairy-free version, you can use coconut milk or a cashew cream as a substitute for the heavy cream. They provide a creamy texture and rich flavor without the use of dairy.

Can I make penne alla vodka ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare penne alla vodka ahead of time. Simply make the sauce and store it in the refrigerator. Reheat the sauce gently while you cook the pasta, then combine just before serving.

Are there any nut-free garnishes for penne alla vodka?

Absolutely. Although some garnishes like pesto may contain nuts, you can opt for nut-free alternatives such as freshly grated cheese, a sprinkle of breadcrumbs toasted in olive oil, or fresh herbs.

Can I make penne alla vodka in a slow cooker or Instant Pot?

While traditionally cooked on the stovetop, penne alla vodka can be adapted for a slow cooker or Instant Pot. Be sure to adjust cooking times and liquid ratios accordingly to ensure the pasta cooks properly.

Now that you know the perfect dishes and drinks to serve with Penne Alla Vodka, you're ready to create an unforgettable dining experience for your friends, family, or loved ones. Don't forget to share this article with fellow pasta lovers and explore the other amazing guides available on Vodka Doctors. You'll discover new recipes and tips to elevate your vodka knowledge, becoming the ultimate vodka connoisseur. Happy cooking and cheers!

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Ferdynand Scheuerman

Ferdynand is Vodka importer, exporter and specialist with over 30 years of experience in the Vodka industry. He knows the subtle in's & out's of Vodka. Spending most of his time discovering new brands, new blends and new cocktails.

About Ferdynand Scheuerman

Ferdynand is Vodka importer, exporter and specialist with over 30 years of experience in the Vodka industry. He knows the subtle in's & out's of Vodka. Spending most of his time discovering new brands, new blends and new cocktails.

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