What To Add To Vodka Sauce? (Explained By Experts)

Vodka sauce is a beloved staple in Italian cuisine, known for its creamy texture and rich flavor. But what if you want to take your jarred vodka sauce to the next level?

Fear not, there are plenty of options for adding a little something extra to your sauce. From sautéed veggies to protein-packed chicken, this article will explore all the delicious ways to elevate your vodka sauce game.

So grab a spoon and get ready to take your taste buds on a journey.

What To Add To Vodka Sauce?

There are endless possibilities when it comes to what you can add to vodka sauce. Here are some ideas to get you started:

– Parmesan or Pecorino rind: While the sauce simmers, add a rind of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese to make it more creamy and rich.

– Sautéed garlic: Before adding your tomato sauce, sauté smashed cloves of garlic with olive oil in the saucepan for added flavor.

– Sautéed vegetables: Toss in some sautéed sweet red peppers and onions to make things interesting.

– Capers, green olives, or lemon zest: Add some last-minute zing with these flavorful ingredients.

– Fresh basil: Keep it fresh with basil, but wait until the end of cook time to add it to the sauce.

– Butter and cream: Bring on the richness with a pat of butter, a splash of cream, or a spoonful of yogurt, crème fraiche, ricotta, sour cream, or mascarpone.

– Pasta water: Save your pasta water! Just a 1/4 cup or a generous splash of that hot and starchy pasta-cooking water will give your sauce a consistency ready to stick gloriously to your noodles.

– Flavored olive oil: Take it to another level with your favorite flavored extra virgin olive oil. Heat with the sauce or drizzle as a finish.

– Bacon or sausage: Everything’s better with bacon! Sauté diced bacon or pancetta in a saucepan and add the pasta sauce straight to the pan to incorporate those tasty drippings and all that flavor. Adding sautéed Italian sausage is another easy way to make a mock Bolognese!

– Wine: Add red or white wine or marsala to your pasta sauce to enhance its lush tomato flavor.

– Veggies: Get some greens into your sauce by adding spinach, kale, broccoli, or asparagus.

– Protein: Precooked shredded or chopped chicken is one of our favorite things to add to the sauce. Garbanzo or white beans can also be added for a vegetarian-friendly protein.

– Herbs: Change things up by adding some torn basil or thinly sliced chives to the sauce.

– Crushed red pepper flakes: Add heat by stirring some crushed red pepper flakes into the dish.

Sautéed Vegetables To Add To Vodka Sauce

If you’re looking to add some vegetables to your vodka sauce, sautéing them beforehand is a great way to enhance their flavors. Some great options include sweet red peppers and onions, zucchini, peas, grape tomatoes, and artichokes. Simply heat up some olive oil in a pan and sauté your veggies until they are slightly tender. Then add them to your vodka sauce and let them simmer together for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld. This is a great way to add some extra nutrition and flavor to your pasta dish.

Adding Protein To Vodka Sauce: Chicken, Shrimp, And More

If you’re looking to make your vodka sauce a more substantial meal, adding protein is a great option. Here are some ideas to try:

– Chicken: Grilled or sautéed chicken breasts are a delicious addition to vodka sauce. Simply season the chicken with salt and pepper, cook it until it’s done, and then slice it into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to the sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes to absorb the flavors.

– Shrimp: Sautéed shrimp is another great protein option for vodka sauce. Toss the shrimp with garlic and lemon juice, then cook it in a nonstick skillet until it’s pink and opaque. Add the shrimp to the sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes.

– Italian sausage: Sliced rounds of Italian sausage can add a lot of flavor to vodka sauce. Brown the sausage in a separate skillet, then add it to the sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes.

– Meatballs: Homemade meatballs are always a crowd-pleaser. Mix ground beef or turkey with breadcrumbs, egg, and seasonings, then shape into balls and bake or pan-fry until cooked through. Add the meatballs to the sauce and let them simmer for a few minutes.

– Beans: For a vegetarian-friendly protein option, try adding cannellini or garbanzo beans to your vodka sauce. Simply drain and rinse the beans, then add them to the sauce and let them simmer for a few minutes.

By adding protein to your vodka sauce, you can turn it into a well-rounded meal that will keep you feeling satisfied. Experiment with different options to find your favorite combination!

Herbs And Spices To Enhance The Flavor Of Vodka Sauce

When it comes to enhancing the flavor of vodka sauce, herbs and spices are key. Here are some ideas to try:

– Garlic: Sauté some minced garlic in olive oil before adding the tomato sauce to give your sauce a boost of flavor.

– Onion: Add some diced onions to the garlic and olive oil mixture for even more depth of flavor.

– Black pepper: Freshly ground black pepper can add a subtle kick to your vodka sauce.

– Crushed red pepper flakes: For those who like a little more heat, crushed red pepper flakes can be added to the sauce.

– Oregano: This herb has a slightly bitter and pungent taste that complements the acidity of the tomatoes in the sauce.

– Basil: Fresh basil is a classic addition to tomato-based sauces, adding a sweet and slightly peppery flavor.

– Thyme: Thyme has a slightly earthy and floral flavor that can add complexity to your vodka sauce.

– Rosemary: This herb has a strong, woody flavor that pairs well with tomato-based sauces.

– Smoked paprika: A pinch of smoked paprika can add a subtle smoky flavor to your vodka sauce.

– Bay leaves: Adding a couple of bay leaves to your sauce while it simmers can add an herbal undertone to the flavor.

Experimenting with different herbs and spices is a great way to personalize your vodka sauce and make it truly unique. Don’t be afraid to mix and match flavors until you find the perfect combination for your taste buds.

Creamy Additions: Ricotta, Heavy Cream, And Parmesan Cheese

If you’re looking to make your vodka sauce creamier, there are a few ingredients you can add to take it to the next level. One classic creamy addition is heavy cream or heavy whipping cream, which is often used in vodka sauce recipes to create that rich and luxurious texture. You can add a splash of cream when you add the vodka to the sauce, or wait until the end to finish the sauce with a dollop of cream.

Another creamy addition that can take your vodka sauce to the next level is ricotta cheese. Whipped ricotta underneath your rigatoni alla vodka can add a dreamy and delicious touch to your dish. To make whipped ricotta, simply blend ricotta cheese in a food processor until smooth and creamy, then spoon it onto the bottom of your baking dish before adding the pasta and sauce.

Lastly, freshly grated Parmesan cheese is a must-have addition to any vodka sauce recipe. It adds depth of flavor and a nutty richness that complements the tomato base perfectly. If you have some of the cheese rind, add it to the sauce for extra flavor. Pecorino Romano is also a good option when serving Italian food. Sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top of your pasta dish at the end for an added burst of flavor.

Creative Twists: Bacon, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, And More

If you’re looking for some creative twists to add to your vodka sauce, consider adding some bacon or sun-dried tomatoes. These ingredients can take your dish to the next level and add a unique flavor profile. Here are some ideas to try:

– Bacon: Sauté diced bacon or pancetta in a saucepan and add the pasta sauce straight to the pan to incorporate those tasty drippings and all that flavor. The salty and smoky taste of bacon pairs perfectly with the creamy tomato sauce.

– Sun-dried tomatoes: Puree sun-dried tomatoes and add them to the sauce for an extra burst of flavor. You can also julienne cut or halve sun-dried tomatoes and add them to the sauce for a chewy texture.

– Mushrooms: Sauté mushrooms in olive oil until they are tender and add them to the sauce. Mushrooms add an earthy flavor that pairs well with the tomato and vodka.

– Roasted red peppers: Add some roasted red peppers to the sauce for a sweet and smoky flavor. You can roast your own peppers or use jarred ones.

– Sausage: Brown some Italian sausage in a pan and add it to the sauce for a meaty addition. The sausage adds a savory flavor that complements the tomato and vodka.

– Peas: Add some peas to the sauce for a pop of color and sweetness. Peas are a great addition if you’re looking for some veggies in your pasta dish.

– Spinach: Add some spinach to the sauce at the end of cooking time for a healthy addition. The spinach will wilt in the hot sauce and add some greens to your meal.

– Red pepper flakes: If you like some heat, sprinkle some red pepper flakes into the sauce for a spicy kick. Just be careful not to add too much!

These are just a few ideas to get you started on your creative twists for vodka sauce. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and find your own unique combination!