Pasta with a Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce

This post is created in partnership with Mullan Road Cellars. Mullan Road Cellars is a winery located here in Washington State, in the Columbia Valley. It was founded in 2012 by Dennis Cakebread, a 40- year veteran owner of Cakebread Cellars winery in Napa Valley. Mullan Road Cellars creates such exceptional wine, especially the 2016 red wine blend. I love supporting local products and producers, and especially Washington State wines. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Flourishing Foodie, and as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Who doesn’t love a good tomato sauce, pasta, cheese and a nice full-bodied red wine? This is usually my first choice for ultimate comfort food. Italian food has got to be one of my favorite cuisines. For our honeymoon, Brent and I spent a few weeks in Italy, and I think I ate the best food of my life, over the span of those two weeks.

Whenever we go out for dinner and I get to choose the restaurant, I always choose Italian, somewhere with fresh pasta and good red wine. Whenever I have little time and ingredients, I always take comfort in knowing that I can probably whip something up with some dried pasta, and then pair it with a nice red wine.

When I’m making it at home, I love experimenting with different pasta shapes. We have a cute little Italian grocer here in Seattle, and they have the largest selection of dried pasta that I have ever seen. A few weeks ago, I stopped in and bought way too many bags of pasta, and now every inch of my cupboard space is taken up by pasta. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been hit on the head by a dry bag of fusilli in the last month.

Speaking of whipping up a delicious meal with few ingredients and little time, have I got a pasta recipe for you. A creamy decadent pasta with a tomato vodka sauce. The pasta that I used for this recipe is called fusilli col Buco. Translated to English, it is fusilli with a hole! It’s a long spiral pasta, similar in length to spaghetti, but hollow like elbow macaroni. It is the perfect noodle for this rich and creamy vodka sauce. The sauce is a bright and flavorful made by sauteing garlic, shallots, and tomato paste in a combination of olive oil and butter, simmered with vodka, then cream, and flavored with Parmesan cheese and chili flakes.

The wine I chose to pair it with is the Mullan Road Cellars 2016 red wine blend. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. The wine has notes of cherry and vanilla, is a deep full-bodied red that pairs perfectly with the richness and acidity from the sauce. The only thing that could make this meal better, is some dark chocolate to finish!


Pasta with a Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce

(serves 4)

  • prep time - 5 minutes

  • cooking time - 30 minutes


  • 1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 small (2 tbsp) shallot, grated

  • 1 garlic clove, grated

  • 1 - 6 oz can of tomato paste

  • 1/4 cup vodka

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 1 lb dry Fusilli col Buco pasta or your favorite pasta

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese + additional

  • kosher salt

  • chili flakes


  1. Bring a large pot of water (16 cups) to a boil. Once the water begins to boil, add 1 1/2 tbsp of kosher salt and stir.

  2. While the water is coming to boil, heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.

  3. Add the shallot and garlic and fry until the garlic starts to brown.

  4. Add the tomato paste and fry until it begins to caramelize, approximately 5 minutes.

  5. Stirring continuously, add the vodka and cook until most has evaporated.

  6. Pour the cream into a medium bowl. Add a tbsp at a time of the hot tomato paste to the cream, whisking to incorporate. Continue in this manner until the cream is warm. Add all of the contents of the bowl back to the skillet and stir with a whisk to combine. Reduce the heat too low. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, while the pasta cooks. If the sauce looks like it is browning or cooking too aggressively, remove from the heat.

  7. Add the dry pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.

  8. Once the paste is cooked, reserve 1 cup of pasta water, and drain the rest. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss with the tomato cream sauce. Add a 1/4 cup of pasta water at a time too thin out the cream sauce, until you get a desired consistency.

  9. Add 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and toss. Season with salt and chili flakes. Serve with additional Parmesan.

  10. Serve warm. Best eaten immediately. Does not keep well.