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Pumpkin alla Vodka Pasta

  • Author: Beth Djalali


  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms sliced
  • 1 yellow onion finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 4 oz. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 lb. dry penne pasta
  • 1 bunch kale stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish


  • Fill a stock pot with water and heat over high. Season liberally with salt and bring to a boil while you prep other ingredients.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a Dutch oven or large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Arrange mushrooms in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until bottom side is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Toss and continue cooking 2 to 3 more minutes, until softened. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Add remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and onion to pan. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg; cook 1 minute, until fragrant.
  • Add tomato paste and stir to evenly coat onion. Continue to cook, stirring often, until paste is deep red and starting to brown on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes. Add vodka to deglaze pan, stirring to scrape up browned bits of tomato paste. Cook 1 minute to allow some of the alcohol to cook off.
  • Stir in pumpkin puree, coconut milk, and sautéed mushrooms; reduce heat to low.
  • Once pasta water is boiling, add pasta and cook until almost al dente. Add kale during final minute of cooking.
  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer cooked pasta and kale to skillet with vodka sauce. Stir in pasta cooking water in 1/2 cup increments until sauce turns smooth and glossy and coats each piece of pasta. Stir in fresh thyme leaves and garnish with Parmesan, if desired.