Pasta with Vodka Sauce


  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Large pinch chilli flakes
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp caster sugar, depending on how sweet your tomatoes are
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 75ml vodka
  • 400g pasta of your choice
  • 6-8 tbsp freshly grated parmesan or vegetarian hard cheese


  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based casserole (use one with a lid), then add the onion and crushed garlic with a pinch of salt and the chilli flakes. Fry gently for 12-15 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp sugar and the basil, season well, then cover and leave to simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vodka, then season to taste with a little more salt, pepper or sugar – whatever you think it needs.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the pack instructions. Drain well, reserving a ladleful of the cooking water, then add the pasta to the tomato sauce with a splash of the pasta cooking water to loosen, if it needs it. Toss well to combine, then serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan.