Welcoming Wednesday with this cozy, Roasted Red Pepper Alla Vodka Pasta with Cheesy Oregano Breadcrumbs. This is not your average alla vodka pasta. Fire-roasted red peppers with fresh herbs, shallots, and garlic, all pureed into a creamy tomato vodka sauce that’s vibrant and so delicious! Then finish off this pasta with cheesy oregano bread crumbs for a dinner that’s mouth-wateringly delicious. This is a great pasta to serve any night of the week.
Yesterday I shared a Valentine’s Day dessert and today it’s all about the Valentine’s Day dinner. Enter this roasted red pepper alla vodka pasta…with cheesy breadcrumbs. Because you guys know how much I love a good topping (never enough toppings).
I have been working on this pasta for weeks. When I first set out to make this it had nothing to do with an alla vodka sauce and everything to do with a slowly caramelized red pepper pasta. But here’s the thing, it wasn’t working. If I’m being very honest with you all, this has been the case with so many recipes as of late. I’m definitely struggling a bit and dishes are taking a lot more effort than usual. But once I get them right they are so good and delicious and I love them so much.
That is surely this case with this pasta. It took so many test runs, but now that it’s ready for sharing, I could not love it more. The roasted red peppers within this extra creamy vodka sauce are such a step up in the flavor department in comparison to a classic alla vodka sauce.
It’s creamy, rich, topped with addictingly delicious breadcrumbs, and truly one of my better pasta recipes. Perfect for date night, but great for any other night as well.
Start out by making the breadcrumbs. When I first made this pasta, I didn’t add any breadcrumbs. It was still good, but I wasn’t as excited about the recipe, I felt it needed something more.
Enter the cheesy breadcrumbs made simply with Panko, fresh oregano, and plenty of nutty Manchego cheese. While these breadcrumbs may seem simple, they add texture to the pasta and a cheesy, crunchy bite.
So. Very. Delicious.
Once the breadcrumbs are toasted, drain off the jar of roasted red peppers and puree them either in a blender or food processor until mostly smooth. The roasted red peppers add so much flavor to this sauce. They really make it just a touch more special than most other vodka sauces.
Now, the pasta. The first time around I tried to use a fancier cut of pasta. Even though the sauce was good, the pasta kind of fell apart on me. So the second time, I went to my go-to, bucatini. Bucatini is a little thicker than spaghetti. There’s a hole running through the center of the noodle that creates room for the sauce to snuggle into. It’s the perfect cut of pasta for something like an alla vodka sauce.
You’ll want to first boil off the pasta, then just before draining reserve some of the pasta cooking water. This step is crucial, so please make sure not to dump the water before scooping some out. The pasta water will be used for creating a creamy sauce later.
Finishing up the pasta.
While the pasta is boiling away, start cooking the fresh red bell pepper, shallots, and garlic. You’ll want to cook these down until caramelized. Next stir in a bit of tomato paste, a splash of vodka, milk for creaminess, and butter for richness. Now add in some of the pasta cooking water and simmer the sauce until it has reduced down a bit and thickened. At this point, your kitchen is going to smell amazing. There should be hints of garlic and butter throughout…it’s the best of Italian smells.
When the sauce is ready, toss it with the pasta and then immediately serve topped with plenty of breadcrumbs and additional cheese.
Simple. Easy. So. Very. Good.
So, what does the vodka really do?
Now I want to start by staying that if you do not drink, I totally understand. In this case, just swap the vodka for chicken broth, vegetable broth, or even just water. That will be totally fine and your sauce will still be great.
If you do drink, or you’re ok with using alcohol for cooking, you must add the vodka to your sauce. It’s a game-changer. The vodka adds a sharp bite that helps to balance out the sweetness of the tomatoes. When used in small amounts, the vodka will boost and intensify the aroma of the sauce. The key is to slowly simmer the sauce. This will release its flavors and cook out the alcohol. So yes, this is safe to serve to kids!
I love the idea of serving this up as Valentine’s day dinner, but don’t let that be the only night of the year that you make this. Honestly, this is pretty simple, quick, and easy. Yes, there are some steps involved, but none of them are hard or too time-consuming.
You can even prepare the sauce way ahead of time, then just add the pasta before you’re ready to serve. This would make a great dinner party meal with a side salad and some extra crusty bread (highly recommend the no-knead bread from HBH Super Simple). Or just a fancier weeknight dinner at home with the family. Either way (or day) you serve this pasta up, it’s going to be good. It’s one of those types of pasta that’s easily loved by all.
If you make this roasted red pepper alla vodka pasta with cheesy oregano breadcrumbs, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Roasted Red Pepper Alla Vodka Pasta with Cheesy Oregano Breadcrumbs.
Calories Per Serving: 405 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
- 1/2 cup grated Manchego or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 pound bucatini pasta
- 1 (16 ounce) jar roasted red peppers drained
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup vodka
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup canned coconut milk , whole milk, or heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 1/2 cup fresh basil or parsley, roughly chopped
- 1. Heat a large, high sided skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, breadcrumbs, and 1 tablespoon oregano, and cook, stirring occasionally until the breadcrumbs are toasted all over, about 3 minutes. Add the cheese and cook another 2 minutes, until fried. Remove the breadcrumbs from the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Set the crumbs aside.2. Add the red peppers to a food processor. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Just before draining, remove 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water. Drain.4. Meanwhile, place the skillet over high heat along with 4 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the sliced red bell pepper, shallots, garlic, fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon oregano, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until the shallots begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the tomato paste and vinegar, cook 2 minutes. Stir in the roasted red pepper puree, vodka, 1 cup pasta cooking water, milk, and butter. Simmer for 15-30 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.5. Add the pasta and basil, tossing to combine. If needed, thin the sauce with additional pasta cooking water.6. Divide the pasta among plates and top with breadcrumbs and additional cheese. Enjoy!
To Replace the Vodka: use an equal amount of chicken or vegetable broth. To Make Ahead: prepare the alla vodka sauce through step 4. You can simmer the sauce on low for up to 2 hours, adding additional water if the sauce thickens too much. The sauce can be made 4 days ahead of time and chilled in the fridge. To serve, warm on the stove, then boil the pasta and toss with the sauce just before serving. To Freeze: the alla vodka sauce can be made, then frozen in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw, then use as directed. Breadcrumbs: will keep in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 1 week.