This delicious spicy rigatoni vodka recipe is inspired by the famous NY Carbone restaurant’s dish. However, I’ve put my own spin on it so that it is high protein rigatoni (Carbone-style) by adding turkey mince.
This delightful pasta dish is budget-friendly (say goodbye to £25 a plate!) and easy to make. Plus, it includes an irresistible, velvety, rich vodka cream sauce.
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As mentioned, this yummy spicy rigatoni vodka dish is easy on the wallet, with each portion costing about £1.59. It’s also more filling than the restaurant version since it includes lean protein.
Since this Carbone spicy rigatoni recipe is homemade, you can adjust the spice level in the sauce to your preferences. It’s also easy to toss in veg for a more filling, fibre-rich dish.
This cosy meal is also great for meal prep, as it lasts four to five days in the fridge. Simply reheat on the stove with an extra splash of single cream, and you’ll have a plateful of spicy rigatoni that tastes like it was freshly made.
Carbone, a NY restaurant that has housed many celebrities since its opening in 2011, is famous for its spicy rigatoni vodka dish.
This dish takes its inspiration from classic Italian fare, where alcohol is used to boost the flavour of tomatoes. Mario Carbone, one of the founders of the Carbone restaurant, is credited with creating spicy vodka rigatoni. According to some sources, this famous dish is inspired by penne alla vodka, a creamy tomato-based pasta dish.
The spicy rigatoni (Carbone-version) is so popular and beloved that the restaurant recently came out with a Carbone vodka sauce you can purchase and enjoy at home. This store version is still pricey at around £7 per jar.hy you’ll love this spicy rigatoni vodka.
I love adding turkey mince to this spicy rigatoni vodka dish to boost the protein and make it more filling. However, you can leave out the mince to create a vegetarian dish. Or, use other mince like chicken or pork instead.
Tomato puree is my go-to for vodka rigatoni since it works well as a sauce base for pasta dishes. Mashed fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce will also work well for this Carbone pasta dupe. Add tomato paste to this spicy rigatoni vodka pasta if you prefer thicker sauces.
This ingredient helps create the creamy sauce that Carbone spicy rigatoni is known for. It is also lower in calories than double or heavy cream. However, if you want a more comforting meal, you can use heavy or double cream to create a decadent sauce.
One of the reasons I love this spicy rigatoni vodka dish so much is that it’s versatile. You can create this spicy rigatoni recipe with gin, tequila, white wine, lemon juice, or cognac and chicken/veggie broth instead of vodka. You’ll get a similar flavour, but it allows you to use what’s on hand instead of running to the store for a bottle of vodka.
Though the Carbone version of this dish uses large rigatoni, you can adjust the type of pasta to your needs. Penne or other tubular noodles work well with this dish since they collect the sauce well.
If you don’t like turkey mince, you can use meat like Italian sausage in this recipe. Other options that work well include chicken or pork mince. Chunks of cooked chicken or chicken sausage also work well with this spicy rigatoni vodka (Carbone-style). You can also adjust the heat level in the sauce by using more or fewer chilli flakes.
A few more variations include using shallots instead of onion, adding more vodka for additional flavour, including sun-dried tomatoes, or adding fresh basil and mozzarella.
Spicy rigatoni vodka dishes require vodka (or a similar spirit) to help balance out the flavour of the tomatoes and the cream in the sauce. Vodka also affects the consistency of the sauce, as it helps bind the ingredients together.
3. Fry together for around 8 minutes and until the tomato puree has darkened (Image 3).
4. Then add the vodka and increase the heat. Stir and cook until the liquid has evaporated and the alcohol is cooked off (Image 4).
5. In the meantime, add the rigatoni to salted boiling water and set your timer 2 minutes less than the packet instructions (Image 5).
6. Stir the turkey mince into the pan. Add around 4 ladles of pasta water and reduce the heat. When the heat is low, stir in the cream into the mix (Image 6).
7. Then add the al dente pasta (reserve some extra pasta water in case) and half of the parmesan. Then, add around 4 ladles of pasta water into the frying pan and reduce the heat and stir together. Continue to cook until the sauce has thickened and the pasta is perfectly cooked (Image 7).
8. Add another additional pasta water if necessary. Top with the remaining parmesan and fresh basil (Image 8).
Use Calabrian chilis for a more authentic dish
The original Carbone version of this dish calls for Calabrian chilis for its fiery flavour. If you can find some in the local market, and have some extra budget, you can use it instead of red pepper flakes in this easy recipe for vodka sauce.
Leave the pasta al-dente
If you’re wondering, “How to make the best homemade spicy rigatoni vodka?”. The answer is in how you cook the pasta. Remove the pasta about two minutes before it’s fully cooked, so it’s al dente. Keeping the pasta al dente means the noodles have more starch, which helps the sauce stick better. It also means you won’t have mushy leftovers.
Make extra sauce
Double or triple the sauce for this spicy rigatoni dish to have leftover sauce for the freezer. Put the sauce into airtight containers with a serving or two for easier reheating later. The sauce should be good in the freezer for up to three months.
While this yummy spicy rigatoni vodka dish is delicious on its own, you can add other side dishes to make a more filling meal. Consider including a salad on the side for added nutrients. Like other saucy pasta dishes, this recipe is great with bread, like focaccia, so you can scoop up any leftover sauce on the plate.
Spicy rigatoni vodka has a complex flavour from the required ingredients. The tomatoes offer brightness and acidity, the vodka provides a sharp taste, and the cream creates a decadent consistency. The Calabrian peppers provide its fiery flavour. It’s equal parts creamy, spicy, and tangy.
Yes, Carbone spicy rigatoni is good (at least according to the many patrons who visit the restaurant regularly!).
Any tubular pasta will work for spicy vodka sauce, as this shape allows the sauce to cling to the noodles better. Some popular options include rigatoni and penne.
No, you cannot get drunk from vodka sauce. As the sauce cooks on the stove, the alcohol evaporates. There should be a minimal, if any, vodka flavour when the sauce is ready.
Yes, you can taste the vodka in pasta sauce. It provides an astringent taste that balances out the other ingredients.
Yes, kids can have vodka sauce since the alcohol cooks out. If you’re still concerned about feeding vodka sauce to your kids, you can use lemon juice as a substitute for a similar flavour.
No, penne alla vodka should not taste like vodka. When spirits are added to pasta dishes, they are used to help enhance the flavour of the other ingredients. If you can taste the alcohol, you likely put too much vodka or did not allow the sauce to cook long enough.
It’s important to use the correct quantity of vodka when making spicy rigatoni alla vodka. Too much vodka will create a bitter taste. Ensure you follow the directions and measure the vodka for the best results.
You can turn this spicy rigatoni vodka into meals throughout the week by splitting it into five even portions in airtight containers. Once the pasta and sauce are fully cooled, you can keep the meals in the fridge for up to five days. Take them to the office or enjoy them as quick dinners during the week.
If you tried this Spicy Rigatoni Vodka recipe, it would be mean so much to me if you could leave a review & a star rating to let me know how you found it! I love hearing about your experiences – it motivates me to keep creating more and more recipes for you guys 💛 Let’s get cooking! – Mimi x