Penne Alla Vodka

“There was perfectly too much food,” says the bride.

May 16, 2013 | | Back Issues | Food | FOOD Spring – Summer 2013 | Main Dishes | Recipes

Every Valentine’s Day Renae and Darren treated themselves to dinner at Chef Talk Bistro in Bolton where chef Fabrizio Natale had been wowing guests since 2005. “We were long-time lovers of his food,” says Renae. So she was more than a little dismayed when she learned the restaurant had closed early last year. But after a few calls, she discovered her favourite chef was still in the catering business.

Renae trusted Fabrizio so completely that she let him set the menu for the wedding. “‘I don’t care what you serve,’ I said. ‘This is my budget. Go for it.’”

“I received endless compliments on the food,” says Renae of the menu which began with an antipasto plate of prosciutto, melon, marinated vegetables, tomato bocconcini, salami and olives. The pasta was penne alla vodka, followed by chicken Marsala and seafood bouillabaisse, and finishing with a garden salad. Dessert was fresh fruit and, of course, the cake – lemon with a buttercream icing.

“There was perfectly too much food,” says the bride.

Chef Talk Wedding Photos

And although the day was as hot as anything Tuscany could deliver, guests stayed cool in the shade of a marquis surrounded by sweeping views of the Caledon countryside. Fresh Images Photography.

Penne Alla Vodka

Recipe submitted by: Chef Fabrizio Natale ( Visit Website )


Serves 6 to 8




  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 4 oz (100g) pancetta, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1½ oz (45ml) vodka
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes, crushed
  • 2 cups 35% cream
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb (450g) penne rigate


  1. In a heavy saucepan large enough to hold the sauce and pasta, add vegetable oil.
  2. Sauté onion and diced pancetta for 3–5 minutes, or until onions are translucent and pancetta is cooked. Add garlic and cook for one more minute, making sure it doesn’t burn.
  3. At this point add the vodka. This will produce a small flame, which will disappear once the alcohol is cooked out. Add crushed tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add cream, stirring constantly, and simmer for 5 minutes or until cream has thickened.
  5. Add chopped parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Keep sauce on a low simmer while cooking the penne in a separate pot. Cook penne until al dente.
  6. Add cooked penne to sauce, stir well and serve.

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