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Spicy Penne Alla Vodka With Meatballs

5 from 1 vote
By Rachael DeVaux


  • 1 box pasta, (I prefer Jovial gluten-free Penne)


  • 1 lb organic ground chicken, (or ground protein of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp avocado or extra virgin olive oil , (for cooking)

Spicy Vodka Sauce

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans fire roasted tomatoes , (I prefer no salt added so I can add my own)
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp Calabrian peppers/chilies, (adjust based on spice preference)
  • 1/2 tbsp sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • fresh basil , (reserve to garnish)



  • Mix the meatball ingredients and roll into 1-inch balls.
  • Heat oil in a medium skillet until hot but not smoking, then add meatballs and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until golden brown, then flip.
  • Once all the sides are browned, reduce heat (or turn off), add 2-3 tbsp water to the pan, then cover to let steam.

Pasta (makes enough for 2 batches)

  • Cook the pasta according to instructions and set aside. While pasta is cooking, transfer 1 cup of pasta water to a glass or bowl and add cashews to soak. Set aside. Strain pasta once done cooking, then drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over the top and stir once to help avoid sticking together while the other ingredients finish cooking.


  • While cashews soak, add oil to a large pot or skillet over medium heat.
  • Once hot, sauté onions and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add fire roasted tomatoes, vodka and salt and simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes.
  • When 10 minutes is up, use a ladle or pour the sauce into a blender along with remaining sauce ingredients, straining the cashews before adding in.
  • Blend with the lid on (center cap undone to allow steam to escape) with a kitchen towel over the top for several minutes until smooth.


  • Pour noodles in the large skillet or pot used to make the sauce (no cleaning necessary). Add desired amount of sauce over cooked pasta, then toss. Serve in individual bowls or plates, top with meatballs, freshly chopped basil and sea salt. Enjoy!


*May want to double the meatball recipe if making for 3-4 people.

Welcome! I’m Rachael.

I enjoy sharing my love for food and fitness. I'm a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, and a New York Times Bestselling author. Here you'll find all kinds of recipes and kitchen hacks, as well as workouts and fitness motivation. Enjoy! — xx Rachael

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