Lightened Penne a la Vodka

Lightened Penne a la Vodka

My daughter is a noodle-head.  She’s been one since she was old enough to feed herself.  Because of that seemingly limitless adoration for pasta, I continually look for opportunities to bring healthier ingredients into our pasta dishes.

My lightened version of this Penne a la Vodka recipe uses whole wheat penne, light butter and fat-free half-and-half instead of the traditional heavy cream.  You’ll still get the full flavor of the classic sauce; you’ll just experience less guilt eating it!


½ stick Land O’Lakes light butter
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ cup vodka
1 large can crushed tomatoes
½ cup fat-free half-and-half
1 box whole wheat penne pasta
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper


1) Cook pasta to package directions, drain and keep warm.

2) Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the pepper flakes and cook for about a minute, allowing the heat from the flakes to release.

3) Stir in the vodka and cook for about 2 minutes.

4) Add the tomatoes, half-and-half, season with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend and the alcohol to burn off.

5) Portion the pasta into a bowl.  Spoon the sauce on top and then sprinkle with grated Parmesan and fresh basil.

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