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Cavatappi with Shrimp & Vodka Sauce

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Because it is Friday, I bring you some fun (translation: booze filled pasta).  Well.. I also brought you a spiked fruit salad on Monday..  but it was Monday.  I think we all could use a drink after a Monday. 

Unless you are like me.. and really, REALLY, love your job. 

So that means I drink for fun on Mondays. 

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No, I’m not resolving to pick up the bottle on a regular basis, despite what you may think.  In fact, I cook with it more than it actually gets consumed by this mouth. 

Ohh.. unless you happen to bring me a bottle of Cupcake Red Velvet.  I’ll drink a whole bottle by myself- but we wont tell. 

Vodka.  Tomato.  Parmesan.  How many ways can I adequately describe to you my love for this tomato-cream-based dish?  I love a good marinara-based pasta dish anyway, but this takes it to a whole other level of yum

After the onions and garlic have made the entire house smell like UGH-mazing, and as if it couldn’t get any better, you add in the crushed tomatoes.  Again- if their were a candle..and it wasn’t sorta weird and un-couth for me to smell of garlic and onions..

Oh. My. Wow. 

If you have any functioning part to your brain left, combine water, skim milk, and flour with a fork or whisk to make a slurry.   

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Add it into your simmering tomato mixture and allow to cook for about a minute.  Add in your half and half, as well as the vodka.  I have found that when I’ve made a vodka sauce in the past, there’s a cleanness to it—a slight sharpness. Not a bitterness at all.. kind of an after burn, but still clean. 

Do I make sense here?  I’ve possibly had more than one taste of the sauce..     

..and for even more heat; add in a heafty 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper.. 

..and then the cheese. 

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Traditional vodka sauce uses heavy cream and butter.  Not this dietitian.  Half and half is easily subbed out here, as well as a splash of reduced fat milk.

Stir in your hot cooked pasta and the shrimp (or any seafood you please..) and garnish with fresh basil.  I saved a bit of the cooking water to thin out my sauce in case it got all gloopy whenI mixed in the pasta.  

It didn’t, but I always play it safe against the gloopy sauce. 

The classic Pasta alla Vodka actually uses Penne, but I’m a feind for using different pasta shapes.  I have fallen in love with cavatappi at the moment.  My Fireman loves the bowties (farfalle is the technical term, but its easier to say bowtie.)

Get saucey with the dish, and don’t skip the booze.  I promise you’ll love this lightened up version of Penne alla Vodka! 


Cavatappi with Shrimp & Vodka Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 1 1/3 cups each

Cavatappi with Shrimp & Vodka Sauce


  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deviened, tails removed
  • Cooking Spray
  • 8-ounces uncooked cavatappi pasta (about 3 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can organic crushed tomatoes
  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil


Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

While pasta cooks, heat large skilled over medium heat coated with cooking spray. Add shrimp and cook 2 minutes on each side until no longer grey in color. Remove from pan and keep warm.

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Return skillet to burner. Melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cover and cook 4 minutes or until tender. Add crushed tomatoes; simmer, partially covered, 8 minutes or until thick. Combine flour, water, and milk, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture to pan; cook 1 minute. Add half-and-half, vodka, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Stir in cheese. Reduce heat to low; cook 3 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Add pasta; toss to coat. Sprinkle with basil.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 449; Fat: 10 g; Carbohydrate: 55 g; Fiber: 3.2 g; Protein: 34 g


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