Dinner For Two: Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce

The Monday between a Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day is, in a word- brutal. Many of us are still recovering from a late night of nachos and chicken wings and know that in just a few short hours we’re going to be putting on our reds or pinks and diving into date nights or overpriced boxes of chocolates (or both! I enjoy both!)

If you’re still feeling a little groggy from last night’s big game and are struggling to come up with a plan for tomorrow night’s celebration of all things love and romance, I’ve got the perfect recipe you can cook up for your special someone as a surprise or prepare right alongside them for a cozy night in together.

And the portions of this recipe make up to four servings, so you can each get seconds if you want them!



  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One 4.5-ounce tube double concentrated tomato paste
  • 1½ ounces vodka
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces rigatoni
  • Fresh or crushed basil
  • Grated or shredded parmesan cheese, for serving


1. In a large high-sided skillet or Dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While finishing the sauce, cook the pasta until very al dente, 7 to 9 minutes or according to the package directions. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta.

3. Add the tomato paste to the onion-garlic mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to caramelize (it will change in color from bright red to deeper brick red), about 5 minutes. Add the vodka to deglaze the pan, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet and cooking off the alcohol, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream, then adjust the seasoning as needed to taste.

4. Transfer the drained pasta into the sauce and return to medium-low heat. Add about ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water, stirring to coat the pasta and loosen the sauce. Add more pasta water as needed until the sauce is glossy and coating the noodles. Serve garnished with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.


Nothing says “perfect dinner date” like some carbs and cheese. Add a little candlelight and use any leftover vodka for a couple of strong drinks and you’re looking at one of the best and most personalized, laid-back Valentine’s Days ever! It’s so much more romantic to cook up a dish like this than try to get reservations at a restaurant or spend way too much on flowers or cards!

But however you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day (if you even plan on celebrating it at all!) I hope you have a fun and stress-free one!


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Hi! I'm Ashley. I'm a blogger and a radio personality with a makeup and shoe addiction based out of Boston and the Pioneer Valley. These are my (mis)adventures.

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