While typically going to the grocery store hungry and with no list is a plan for disaster, my most recent trip turned inspirational.
Whenever dining at an Italian restaurant, I always look for pasta alla vodka sauce. I’m a sucker for a creamy, smooth, rich tomato sauce with a little kick. So, I decided to put my own little spin on this comfort food favorite. I cook the sausage and shrimp in part butter, part olive oil, seasoned with Creole spices and dried herbs.
For the vodka sauce, I add in fresh thyme oregano, and garlic for aromatics, and cashew cream cheese and a little cashew milk instead of heavy cream for added creaminess. You can use heavy cream but my lactose intolerance won’t let me be great.
Once you toss in the shrimp and sausage, an added layer of flavor and sweet heat develops, making it the whole dish that much better!
Creole Shrimp and Sausage Penne alla Vodka Sauce
A rich, smooth and creamy vodka sauce, combined with spicy shrimp and sausage.
Skip this step is using store bought stock.
Add shrimp shells, kosher salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and onion powder to 5 cups of water and stir to combine. Place in microwave for 5 minutes. Strain into a large pot and add 3 cups of water.
Cook penne according to package instructions. Once al dente, strain and set aside.
Melt half a stick of butter in a large sauce pan, and add in olive oil. Once heated toss in garlic and stir. Cook until fragrant. Add in shrimp and cook on both sides until opaque (pink).
Stir in sausage and let cook for another minute. Remove shrimp and sausage from pan, leaving as much oil and garlic in pan as possible.
Add in tomatoes, fresh and dried herbs, onion powder, and vodka, and stir. Add in other half of butter and stir until melted. Let simmer and cook down for about 20 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and use an immersion blender to puree the sauce until smooth. You can also use a food processor.
Add sauce pan back to heat, add in parmesan, vegan cream cheese and cashew milk (or heavy cream), and stir until combined into sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Add in pasta, shrimp and sausage, and stir to combine into sauce.
Let pasta sit and simmer for 3 minutes before serving.