This budget-friendly Vodka Rigatoni with Smoked Sausage and Peas is full of mouthwatering flavor, goes a long way, and is mostly made with simple pantry ingredients. It’s an easy meal prep recipe that’s ready in less than an hour.
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Key Ingredients & Substitutions
Vodka rigatoni has always been at the top of the list when it comes to classic Italian comfort food. And comfort food is something we could all use a heavy dose of during this crazy time. There are a gazillion ways to approach the recipe and you may already have a special spin. But here are the basics I used as a starting point that quickly turned into a fam fave.
- Pasta! – No rigatoni on hand, no problem. Penne, ziti, rotini, and farfalle are great substitutes.
- Booze – It’s called vodka sauce because of that splash of the ubiquitous libation, but feel free to use wine or skip the alcohol and use chicken broth instead.
- Sausage – I had smoked turkey sausage sitting in the freezer, but regular Italian sausage, prosciutto, pancetta or ham will be delicious too. And you can always pass on the meat to keep the dish vegetarian.
- Tomatoes – Tomato paste is a key ingredient and I tossed in a can of petite diced tomatoes too for added texture.
- Cream and Cheese – Adding heavy cream gives the blush sauce its classic look and grated parmesan is a no-brainer in my book. If you decide to substitute coconut cream, please let me know how it goes!
- Veggies and Spices – Onion and garlic make a great base of flavor and it’s further enhanced with dried Italian herbs and crushed red pepper flakes. Feel free to dial the heat up or down to your liking. Peas, scallions and fresh basil add a bright pop of color, and you can always wilt in baby spinach or arugula.
Firing Up the Stove
Once you have your ingredients of choice, fire up the stove with a large pot of water for the pasta and another large pot or Dutch oven for the sauce. The Dutch oven for the sauce may seem big at first, but once the cooked pasta is added you’ll be happy you had the extra space.
TIP: Save about a half cup of pasta liquid in case the sauce needs to be thinned out a little at the end.
It takes just about the same amount of time for the water to come to a boil and for the pasta to cook as it does to make the sauce. Cook the pasta a minute less than what the package instructions suggest. There will be carry-over cooking in the sauce when the two are married together.
Feel free to serve Vodka Rigatoni with Smoked Sausage and Peas straight from the pot, or break out one of your favorite serving bowls to dress things up a bit. Your call! Hope you enjoy and be sure to pass the parm. Stay well friends!
More Delicious Pantry Ingredient Recipes
Vodka Rigatoni with Smoked Sausage and Peas
- 12 ounces dried rigatoni pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 12 ounces smoked turkey or chicken sausage, cut into ¼-inch slices
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- ⅓ cup tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon each dried parsley, oregano and basil
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup vodka
- 1 14.5- ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup hot water from pasta pot
- 1 ½ cups frozen peas, thawed
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- ½ cup green onions, thinly sliced, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped, plus extra for garnish
- Bring a large stock pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a generous amount of kosher salt to boiling water and cook rigatoni al dente, according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile in another large pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add sliced sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon to a clean bowl or plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
- Heat remaining olive oil in pot and add the onion. Season with salt and pepper. Cook onion until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
- Pour in chicken broth to deglaze the pot and scrape up brownings on the bottom with a wooden spoon. Cook until liquid is reduced by almost half, 3-5 minutes.
- Lower heat to medium. Stir in tomato paste, dried herbs and crushed red pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Stir in vodka and deglaze the bottom of the pot, 1-2 minutes.
- Add diced tomatoes and cook 3 minutes.
- With a heatproof measuring cup, carefully scoop about ¼ cup of hot pasta water from the pot of rigatoni, then add ¾ cup heavy cream to the measuring cup. This brings up the temperature of the cream so it won’t break when adding it to the sauce.
- Slowly whisk the warm cream into the Dutch oven, stirring constantly until completely incorporated.
- Stir in peas, parmesan cheese, ¼ cup green onions and basil. Return sausage to the pot. Cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Transfer cooked rigatoni to the Dutch oven, and carefully stir until the pasta is completely coated. Add additional pasta water if the mixture seems too thick.
- Serve hot with remaining green onions, parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Enjoy!
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