You know what Monday needs?
A bowl of comforting, creamy pasta. Yes, please!
This pumpkin rigatoni alla vodka is a delicious and fun fall twist on the classic vodka sauce. There is SO much flavor going on here, and savory recipes using pumpkin are my fave.
I love a pumpkin donut here and there, and maybe a PSL or pumpkin cream cold brew like once a year. But other than that, I get over the sweet pumpkin stuff pretty quickly. I chalk it up to the fact that I don’t love pumpkin pie. Never have. Probably never will.
For me, savory pumpkin is where it’s at!
I LOVE classic vodka sauce. It is definitely a nostalgic comfort for me, and if we are ever at a restaurant and I can’t decide on anything else, I’ll get pasta all vodka.
It’s creamy, tomato-y, and always so good. I could eat it time and time again. It’s a classic for a reason!
I’ve made my own version of vodka sauce at home many, many times. My favorite way to amp up the flavor is to add bacon or pancetta to the sauce and lots of red pepper flakes for heat. This pumpkin version also features these flavors!
I wanted to create a pumpkin pasta that was a bit different than the ones you see all over the internet these days. Usually, it’s pumpkin ravioli or gnocchi or even pumpkin mac and cheese. All lovely. All delicious. All been done a million times.
Pumpkin alla vodka, though? I thought it sounded really fun. A little bit different. And super delicious.
As with many of my recipes, I never know quite how something is going to come out. It sounds so good in my head, but developing it, testing it, and executing it for all of you can sometimes turn out very differently.
Not this time! This time…well, I rocked it. Humble brag.
The sauce itself is mostly based on the classic recipe. We have onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, lots of tomato paste, vodka, cream, and parmesan cheese. My twists include bacon, cinnamon and nutmeg, fresh sage, and of course, PUMPKIN.
There are a few key steps to any vodka sauce, and the biggest one for me is to make sure you cook your tomato paste. You want it to be almost caramelized in the pan, deepened in color AND flavor. Taking the time to do this not only makes the sauce taste richer and well rounded, but it also helps to get rid of that acidic/tin-can flavor tomato paste can sometimes have. Don’t rush this step!
The resulting sauce is still reminiscent of the classic vodka sauce we all know and love, but with a spiced and cozy feel. The pumpkin adds awesome creaminess and heft to the sauce, and it definitely makes it taste like the season.
The fresh sage and spices amp that right up, too.
My favorite way to serve this up is garnished with the crisped bacon, fresh sage, and lots of parmesan cheese.
I could eat this forever and ever and ever.
THIS is how I like my pumpkin, folks.Print
This Pumpkin Rigatoni Alla Vodka is a fun fall twist on the classic. A creamy tomato vodka sauce is flavored with bacon, fresh sage, warm spices, and pumpkin! It’s cozy, creamy, carby comfort!
- 1 lb rigatoni pasta (or other tubular pasta shape)
- 4 slices of bacon, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup vodka
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Options for Serving:
- The reserved bacon
- Additional fresh sage
- Additional parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until el dente, according to the package directions. Before draining the pasta, use a measuring cup to scoop out roughly 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain.
- While the water for the pasta is coming up to a boil, prep the sauce. In a large skillet, crisp the bacon. Once rendered and crispy, remove the bacon from the pan and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.
- To the bacon drippings, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, until it begins to soften.
- Add in the garlic, spices, red pepper flakes, and fresh sage and cook, stirring frequently, for another 2 minutes.
- Add in the tomato paste and stir until it is melted and coating everything else in the pan. Cook the tomato paste until it begins to toast and deepen in color slightly. This is where so much of the flavor comes from so don’t rush this step.
- Slowly stream in the vodka, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook for a few minutes or until the vodka is mostly reduced.
- Stir in the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese and stir until everything is creamy and combined. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for a few minutes until everything is warmed through.
- Add the drained pasta, along with a splash of the pasta cooking water, and toss to combine. Keep stirring and adding pasta water, as needed, to create a smooth and creamy sauce that evenly coats all of the noodles (I ended up using close to ¾ cup of pasta water). Season, to taste, with additional salt and pepper.
- Serve the pasta immediately, garnished with the reserved crispy bacon, additional sage, and more parmesan grated over top.
If you want to keep this vegetarian, simply omit the bacon and use a tablespoon of olive oil in place of the drippings.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: pasta
Keywords: pumpkin alla vodka sauce, pumpkin rigatoni all vodka, pumpkin vodka pasta, pumpkin pasta recipe