Rigatoni with Pancetta and Green Onions in Vodka Sauce

Rigatoni with Pancetta and Green Onion in Vodka Sauce

A delicious green onion pancetta pasta recipe, fashioned after one I ate at a local restaurant.

This dish is yet another attempt to re-create a restaurant dish I recently enjoyed. (Yes, I’m a serial re-creator). We took our daughter to Vaughan Mills Mall recently for some back to school shopping and, on my sister’s recommendation, enjoyed lunch at Grazie. (It’s not in the mall, but just next door – close enough to walk).

Grazie has an extensive pasta menu and it was hard to pick one, but I was drawn to this dish, mainly because I was intrigued by the addition of green onion. I’m so glad I did, because I discovered that green onions and pasta make a perfect pairing. Who knew? I’d never considered green onion with pasta, at least not in a starring role. It was a revelation and with every bite I just knew I’d try my hand at making this dish at home.

I make pasta a lot for dinner. I’m sure that comes as no surprise to any regular reader of this blog. After all … I live for Carbs! That said, I’ve never been 100% satisfied with the tomato-based pasta dishes I make at home. They always seem to be missing the richness and smoothness of restaurant dishes.

Then I read a little tip online recently that suggested adding butter. Say what? Yes, butter + tomatoes = an awesome pasta dish. Uh huh. It seems that the butter works to knock back the acidic tomato taste, leaving just the richness and smoothness of the tomatoes that I was after.

In this dish, the vodka also works to heighten the tomato flavour. In fact, that’s it’s only role really, since vodka adds little in terms of taste. The pairing of the pancetta and the green onions really shines with the creamy tomato sauce. There is only a bit of cream in this one – just enough.

The Recipe

Rigatoni with Pancetta and Green Onion in Creamy, Tomato Vodka Sauce
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Rigatoni with Pancetta and Green Onions in Vodka Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is a quick, easy and delicious weeknight meal. In a pinch, you can substitute bacon, but pancetta is worth picking up for this one.
Recipe type: Pasta
Serves: 4
  • 450 g. / 1 lb. Rigatoni pasta
  • 1 cup diced pancetta
  • 1 cup diced green onions, green part only, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Chili flakes
  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 28 oz. can San Marzano or other good quality canned tomatoes, drained, reserving liquid
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy (35% whipping) cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan and additional diced green onion, for garnish
  1. Boil a large pot of water and salt generously. Add pasta and cook until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, drain your canned tomatoes and set aside/reserve the liquid. Break the tomatoes up with your hand and discard any tough ends. Dice your pancetta and green onions and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook pancetta until browned. Add green onions and cook, stirring, until softened and starting to brown (there should be a bit of fat from the pancetta in the pan, but if not, add a bit of butter). Add the chili flakes and cook briefly. Add vodka and cook off until only a few Tablespoons of the vodka remains. Add the tomatoes and about half of the reserved tomato liquid. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the butter, sugar and salt and pepper, to taste. Add the cream and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low until pasta is ready.
  4. When pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot. Add sauce and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. If necessary, add some remaining reserved tomato liquid to loosen the sauce.
  5. Serve with additional fresh diced green onion and Parmesan.



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