What's better than vodka sauce? Vodka sauce with pancetta and peppers! Silky, creamy, a little spicy, and loaded with pancetta and peppers—This pasta is so delicious!
Other than the incredible flavor, of course, the the best thing about this pasta is how easy it is to make! Each step takes just minutes, and you'll end up with the finished product on your plate in no time. The hardest part is trying not to eat all the pasta out of the pan before serving it. This takes serious willpower, trust me. Read through the post for tips and tricks on how to perfect this dish!
*This post may contain affiliate links. See disclosure for further details.
To make sure the pasta is packed with flavor, I used Amore tomato and chili pepper pastes for the base of the sauce, instead of canned tomatoes. Since the flavor is concentrated, it ends up making the pasta super flavorful. Plus, you get a nice kick from the chili pepper paste!
I've been using Amore products for years now and am always so Impressed with their flavor and quality. My pantry is always stocked with their tomato, garlic, chili, herb and anchovy pastes for an easy way to add extra oomph to a variety of dishes. More recently, I've been using their ready to eat vegetables a lot. As the name suggests, you can eat them right out of the package, but you can also cook with them like I did with this pasta! The addition of the grilled peppers, along with the chili pepper paste and the pancetta, takes this vodka sauce situation to a whole other level. You're going to love it!
To make this pasta, you'll start by cooking the pancetta in a large pan. The fat that the pancetta gives off will add tons of flavor to the sauce. Next you add the tomato and chili pepper pastes. Since the pastes make up the bulk of the sauce, you'll use a lot! I like to make sure the pastes get nice and caramelized before moving on to the next step to cook them in the pancetta fat for about 10 minutes, until they darken in color a bit. Next add the garlic, followed by the vodka.
You might be wondering what the vodka does in this recipe and I'm here to tell you—a lot! You've heard of "deglazing the pan" before, and while that's usually done with wine, the vodka in this recipe does the same thing. In addition to deglazing the pan, the vodka also adds an herbal, slightly spicy note to the dish. Just make sure to cook off the alcohol before moving on to the next step—adding the peppers and cream. This is the step where the sauce starts to look reeeeaaaally good. Try not to drool directly into the pan.
Finally, you'll add the cooked pasta, the reserved pancetta, and some cheese (of course) to the sauce pan, along with a bit of pasta water. Make sure you reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta! That starchy pasta water is the key to getting the sauce to cling to each piece of pasta. The starch in the water also emulsifies with the cheese to create a thick, glossy sauce.
You know I really stand by the quality of the products when I use them as the star of the pasta sauce! Click here to find out where to buy Amore products so that you can make this pasta.
Thank you, Amore, for sponsoring this post and supporting Carolyn's Cooking!
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Fusilli alla Vodka with Pancetta and Peppers
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 4 Ounce package pancetta cubed
- 6 Tablespoons Amore tomato paste
- 2 Tablespoons Amore chili pepper paste
- 2 Cloves garlic minced (or substitute 1-1.5 teaspoon of Amore Garlic Cooking Paste for each garlic clove)
- ¾ Cup vodka
- 1 4.4 Ounce Package Amore grilled peppers roughly chopped
- 1 Cup heavy cream
- 1 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated, plus more for serving
- 1 Pound fusilli or other short pasta
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh basil for serving
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until the fat has rendered and it's starting to crisp; about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta to a bowl and set aside. Add the tomato paste and the chili pepper paste, stir, and cook until it darkens in color and begins to caramelize; 5-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the vodka, stir, and cook until alcohol has mostly evaporated; 3 minutes. Add the peppers and cream, stir, and cook until sauce has thickened; 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt the water. Cook the pasta to 2 minutes less than package directions for "al dente."
- Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain. Add the pasta to the sauce pan along with the cheese and ½ cup of the pasta water. Stir continuously until a thick, glossy sauce forms—adding more pasta water as needed; about 3 minutes. Add the pancetta back to the pan and give it one final stir.
- Serve with more cheese and fresh basil. Enjoy!