Penne a La Vodka Casserole

Day 57: “Emeril’s Potluck

February 26, 2011

Putting vodka in a pasta is not something I think of when I am making my home-made spaghetti sauce, but it is common.  You can even buy jarred spaghetti sauce with vodka in it.  I had my husband make this dish for the family this week and when he looked for the vodka, which I assumed me had plain vodka, we did not.  Not sure how this would have tasted with raspberry vodka or chocolate vodka, but we didn’t want to risk it.  A call to our neighbor was the last-minute rescue.  Don’t you love having those neighbors who can help a gal out with a cup of vodka?  She calls me for a can of cream of chicken soup and I call her for vodka.  Doesn’t get more neighborly than that!

This cookbook is filled with all sorts of yummy satisfying food.  I have a couple more that I would have liked to have made, like the Cowboy Chicken Casserole that has 12 cups of tortilla chips in it.  There is another one for Mexican Breakfast Casserole as well……it calls for 6 poblano peppers….and you all know how much I love those poblano peppers!

The Ruling: It was well liked by everyone in our family… everyone I mean everyone but the youngest.  I am going to stop commenting on his likes and dislikes as I think he is throwing this cook book adventure of mine a curve ball.  He wouldn’t even taste one noodle…..soemthing about how he hates red sauce as his excuse.  Weird!  When I copied down the recipe I obviously didn’t look at things very closely like…..4 cups of onions……2 pounds of sausage (I had bought 1 pound)……and the 1/2 cup of vodka…..and it takes 2 hours.  Nothing like eating dinner at 8:30!  Oops!  It was worth the wait it was a good one to put in the monthly rotation, probably under the Sunday Supper category though.  The theory is that you have more time on Sunday’s to let things simmer and bake.  Props to my husband for sticking with this….now I know why he asked for 1 cup of vodka for the recipe from the neighbor and he only needed 1/2 cup…..some was for him.

Penne a la Vodka Casserole


  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages, cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausages, cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
  • 4 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • two 16-ounce cans whole tomatoes, crushed with their juice
  • 1 teaspoon Emeril’s Original Essence
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound penned pasta
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • Crusty bread, for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over high heat.  Add the sausages and cook, stirring, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are just soft, about 4 minutes. Add the basil and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the vodka and tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes. Add the Essence and heavy cream, stir to mix, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. To cook the pasta, combine 4 quarts water, the olive oil, and the remaining teaspoon salt in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain well. Combine half of the ricotta cheese and half of the Parmigainao-Reggiano with the remaining 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Add the pasta and toss to coat evenly. Add the sausage mixture and mix well. Add the remaining ricotta cheese and the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix well.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Bake until bubbly and golden, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Serve warm with crusty bread.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

 MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.



Filed under Main Dishes, Pasta, Sunday Suppers

2 responses to “Penne a La Vodka Casserole

  1. Pingback: Week in Review: March 5, 2011 | 365clevercookbooks

  2. Pingback: Family Meals Week in Review | MS. Simplicity

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