Tomato Vodka Fusilli with Fresh Basil

May 8 2020

Here's a lush and flavour-packed Tomato Vodka Fusilli with Fresh Basil. Even though it uses seemingly simple ingredients, the sauce in this dish has an amazingly rich flavour.

It's my 'lighter version' of a creamy vodka tomato sauce. Instead of using 1 cup of cream like many vodka sauce recipes call for, I've used 1 cup of milk with 1/4 cup of cream. I find it still creates that delicious creamy sauce but without the heaviness a whole cup of cream can bring.

If you don't want to use any cream, you could use 1/4 cup of thick unsweetened yoghurt instead. The yoghurt will give the sauce a slight tang but still taste deliciously creamy.

I’ve used fusilli (spiral-shaped) pasta as I love the way the sauce clings to the pasta and fills all the spirals. Rigatoni or penne would also work great. Any pasta that the sauce can really cling to and make its way into will work perfectly.

The vodka in the sauce has the alcohol content cooked out, but the flavour it imparts remains. It gives the sauce a slight tang and peppery finish and also cuts through the richness of the tomatoes and cream. If you'd rather not use vodka, you could instead use white wine. It would taste a little different but have a similar effect. If you'd rather not use any alcohol, you could add a squeeze of lemon in 1/4 cup of water with a few cracks of black pepper.

I hope you love this lush pasta dish. Let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy!


Tomato Vodka Fusilli with Fresh Basil  |  Gather & Feast

Tomato Vodka Fusilli with Fresh Basil  |  Gather & Feast

Tomato Vodka Fusilli with Fresh Basil  |  Gather & Feast


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Vegetarian, Nut-free, Dairy-free options
10 minutes preparation time + 15 minutes cooking time
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large shallot (or 1 small red onion), finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated or crushed
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or mild chili flakes to taste)
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1 cup full cream milk
  • 1/4 cup pure cream
  • 80g (roughly 1 1/4 cups) parmesan, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 500g fusilli pasta
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Place a large pot of water on to boil.
  2. Add a generous glug of olive oil to a large heavy-based frypan.
  3. Add the finely diced shallots and sauté over low to medium heat until soft.
  4. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic, and sauté over low heat for about a minute.
  5. Add the tomato paste and cook over low to medium heat until it turns deep red, about 4 minutes.
  6. While the tomato paste is cooking, salt the pasta water.
  7. Add the fusilli to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions.
  8. Once the tomato paste is deep red, add the vodka and cook over medium heat for a few minutes to evaporate the alcohol.
  9. Add the milk and cream to the tomato mixture and stir to combine.
  10. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper.
  11. Reserve roughly a cup of pasta water, then drain the cooked pasta and add it directly to the sauce. Stir to combine.
  12. Add the reserved pasta water a splash at a time until you reach a smooth consistency, adding as much or as little as needed.
  13. Add the parmesan, butter, and fresh basil. Stir until the sauce is smooth and the butter has melted.
  14. Serve immediately and enjoy!



  • Adjust the amount of crushed red pepper flakes to your desired level of spiciness. If you prefer a milder dish, you can reduce or omit the pepper flakes.
  • Cooking the tomato paste until it turns a deep red colour is essential for developing a rich and concentrated flavour. Do not rush this step.
  • Cook the fusilli until al dente (firm to the bite) as it will continue to cook slightly when mixed with the sauce.
  • This dish is best served immediately while the sauce is hot and creamy. If you need to reheat it, do so gently over low heat, adding a splash of water to loosen the sauce if it has thickened too much.

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