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  • Writer's pictureRomyL

Spicy Cashew Cream Rigatoni Alla Vodka

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

Serves 3-4


I've had my eyes squarely set on my worn and weathered fan many-a times this summer; it's black grate murmuring from side to side, trying to offer something akin to a breeze to both my partner and I. On the stickiest of nights, I'll often angle it in a favourable position when my bed fellow gets up to brush his teeth, in the hopes that his man-brain doesn't hearken my incessant whingeing about how he never notices the small things.

Never am I sitting on my bed at 5pm on a summer afternoon. Much less am I working at 5pm on a summer afternoon, absolutely not. Yet, this week, I sat on my bed at 5pm, working, on a summer afternoon, with that same fan humming in front of me. Never before have I seen the golden hour cut out angled rectangles over the wall, perfectly highlighting the western tips of my fan grate. Which means, never before have I noticed the extreme orange rust on my trusted, clunky, black propellor. To look at something slightly different after it being a constant, never-changing thing is unsettling, but oftentimes romantic - like how your fingers feel heavy and tacky when you see your parents properly pash for the first time as a kid, but you exclaim 'EWWW' and everyone laughs gently and the moment feels syrupy.

Let me introduce you to another one of those moments (if you have never used vodka in your food). Vodka pasta is a staple in many American households, yet my (limited) research outside of the US has shown that very few people are aware of such a dish. Let me be the first to introduce you to the absolute wonder that is Vodka Pasta. Never again will you unscrew the lid of a vodka bottle without a tender touch, for it is no longer liquor but a liqueur. The ambrosial taste and divinity of such a simple dish is sure to draw you in - if not my description of rusty fans and your parents macking on each other.


  • If you do not want to use vodka, you could replace it with a 1/4 cup of water with a squeeze of lemon.

  • If you want to add in some protein, i'd recommend some flaked up salmon or sliced chicken breast.

  • Taste the sauce before you toss in the pasta to decide whether it needs more salt, pepper, cheese, basil, chilli flakes etc.

  • If you don't want to use cashews, you can go the regular route of double cream (I just struggle to digest it, plus cashews are healthier - let's be real). If so, 1/2 a cup of cream is all you need.

  • If you're vegan, you could try this recipe with vegan parmesan, however, i've never had much luck with vegan cheeses! If you have a tried and tested favourite however, then go for it and let me know how it turns out.



  • 1/2 cup of plain, un-roasted cashews

  • 1/2 cup of water

  • 400 grams (3 cups) of rigatoni pasta

  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 white onion, finely chopped

  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes (depending on spice tolerance)

  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano

  • 5 tablespoons of tomato paste

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • 1/4 cup of vodka

  • 3 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter

  • 1 cup of parmesan, grated

  • 1 large bunch of chives, finely chopped

  • 1 large handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped


  1. At least 3 hours before (but around 4-10 hours is best), pour your cashews into a bowl along with your water. Leave the cashews to soften throughout the day/overnight. Right before you start cooking the pasta, blend the cashews and water together until super creamy.

  2. Place your rigatoni pasta in a heavily salted pot of boiling water and cook until al dente. (Save 1 and 1/2 cups of pasta water before draining).

  3. Whilst the pasta is cooking heat up your olive oil in a deep pan. Once glistening, add in your onions and oregano, then sauté until browned and caramelised (about 5 minutes).

  4. Add in your garlic, and sauté for a further minute.

  5. Turn the heat to low and add in your tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Continually stir for 3-5 minutes or until the tomato paste has thickened and reduced slightly.

  6. Add in your vodka and stir through for 2 minutes.

  7. Stir through your cashew cream, salt, and pepper, and then slowly add in a third of a cup of pasta water.

  8. Add in your butter and stir through until melted in. At this point, if the sauce is too thick, slowly add in pasta water to thin it out, until your desired consistency is reached.

  9. Stir through your basil and 1/2 a cup of parmesan. Again, check if the sauce is too thick, and if so, just use the pasta water to thin it out again.

  10. Toss through your rigatoni until the pasta is fully coated in the sauce.

  11. Serve with the chives and remaining parmesan and ENJOYYYYYYYY!!!

Stay Salty,

Romy xx

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