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5 from 1 vote

Penne Alla Vodka with Smoked Salmon

Make penne alla vodka with smoked salmon one of your go-to midweek meals. It's easy to make and well tasty - the whole family will love it.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
0 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 442kcal


  • 1 Red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 1 Echalion (banana) shallot or ½ mild white onion
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 30 ml Vodka
  • 400 g Tin chopped tomatoes
  • 16 Cherry tomatoes
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • 20 g Fresh basil
  • 100 g Smoked salmon
  • 2 tablespoon Double (heavy) cream
  • 300 g Penne pasta (dried)


  • Begin by putting the pepper into the oven to roast for 30 minutes at 200C/ 400F/ GM6. This can be done ahead of time or use a jar to save time (see notes)
  • Chop and fry the shallot and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft
  • Add the vodka and let bubble for 1 minute, then add the tinned tomatoes. Blitz using a stick blender until smooth
  • Pierce the cherry tomatoes and skin & slice the pepper. Add both to the pan and simmer for 15 minutes
  • Meanwhile cook 300g dried penne pasta - when al-dente, drain and set aside
  • Add the cream, smoked salmon and half the basil. Season to taste
  • Stir the cooked pasta through the sauce, heat until piping hot and serve with the remaining basil scattered on top


Expert Tips
  • A quick taste before serving is especially important in this recipe. If using smoked salmon, bacon or pancetta, only a little - if any - extra salt will need to be added, since these proteins are renown for their saltiness. A good pinch of salt may be required if using chicken or going entirely vegetarian though
  • To save time use jarred roasted peppers - just rinse and pat dry on kitchen towel before using
  • Alternatively, fresh red pepper can be used in this recipe. Deseed and dice it finely, then add to the pan with the cherry tomatoes. Expect the sauce to have more texture than it would do were a roasted pepper used
  • Substitute the smoked salmon for a cooked fillet of salmon or chicken breast. Flake/ chop before adding to the pan in step 6
  • Or replace the salmon with bacon/ pancetta by frying it in a small pan and stirring through the sauce in step 6
  • Any mid-large sized pasta that is designed for a robust sauce works well, but I do think tubes, such as penne, rigatoni or paccheri work particularly well. You could even get away with pasta shells (conchiglie)
  • Avoid smaller styles of pasta such as macaroni as they will get lost in the sauce
Is it safe to serve to children?
Hand on heart, most of the alcohol in my recipe is burned off during the cooking phase if you follow my instructions. So yes, my penne alla vodka with smoked salmon is suitable for children.
I'll caveat this by saying that I have seen a few recipes that add the vodka at the end of the cooking process. Clearly, this is an entirely different approach to creating alla vodka sauce and I would be much more cautious of serving this to children.
If you are still feeling unsure or nervous, then by all means err on the side of caution by making the sauce without the alcohol.


Calories: 442kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 345mg | Potassium: 751mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1875IU | Vitamin C: 64mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 3mg