Penne alla Vodka with Butternut Squash and Wilted Greens
Recipe Intro From lisathompson

This Italian-American favorite gets a cozy update for fall with the addition of sweet butternut squash and delicate, crispy fried sage leaves. Cherry tomatoes, squash, onions, and garlic are roasted until tender and fragrant, then spiked with vodka and heavy cream before being blended into a rich sauce (but don’t worry- all of the alcohol will be cooked off before being served!) Toss a few handfuls of sliced hearty greens into the pot with the Colavita Penne Rigate in the last minute of cooking, then drain and toss to coat each perfectly ridged noodle in the sauce. This recipe makes more sauce than you’ll need, so be sure to reserve about two cups to either top each bowl or freeze it to level-up your next homemade pizza night!


Prep time 15mins
Cook time 35mins
Serves or Makes: 4-6 servings


  • 1/ 2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound peeled butternut squash, cut into 1" cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil,
  • 1 pound Colavita Penne Rigate
  • 2 cups (from about 1/2 bunch) Swiss chard or lacinato kale, sliced into 1/2" wide ribbons
  • 1 small bunch fresh sage
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons vodka
  • 1/ 4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/ 4 cup grated parmesan cheese


  • Step 1

    Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

  • Step 2

    Toss onion, tomatoes, butternut squash, and garlic on a baking sheet with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and black pepper to taste. Cook until squash is fork-tender, about 25 minutes.

  • Step 3

    Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then cook Colavita Penne Rigate until al dente, about 8 minutes. Stir Swiss chard or kale into the pot for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Reserve 2/3 cup pasta water, then drain and set aside. Wipe out pot and return to stove.

  • Step 4

    Heat remaining olive oil in the pot over medium-low heat. Add sage leaves and fry until crisp, about 2 minutes. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Remove pot from heat and let cool for a minute or two, then proceed to the next step (this prevents the tomato paste from sputtering too much in the hot oil!)

  • Step 5

    Add tomato paste to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until caramelized and a shade darker, about 4 minutes. Add reserved pasta water and vodka and stir until well combined. Cook for 5 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add the squash and tomato mixture and heavy cream to the pot and stir to combine.

  • Step 6

    Carefully blend sauce with an immersion blender or a high-speed blender until smooth. Taste and season with salt and a pinch of sugar if necessary. Reserve 2 cups sauce for serving or freeze in an air-tight container for another use.

  • Step 7

    Toss pasta with sauce and half the parmesan cheese, then serve into bowls and top with fried sage leaves and a sprinkle of remaining parmesan.