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Penne Alla Rum

  • Author: Steve Peters
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


No vodka? No problem. Try Penne alla rum! Make this tasty alternative to the classic penne alla vodka recipe using rum, tomatoes, basil, and cream.


Units Scale
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1/2 kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup white rum
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 pounds (32 ounces) fresh or canned tomatoes, crushed
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • A handful of fresh basil


Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. 

While you wait for the water to boil, mince the garlic and chop the onion. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and when hot, sauté the garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes for about 10 minutes or until the onion is tender. Add the rum and let simmer for a minute or two. Add the vegetable broth and tomatoes and return to a simmer. 

Add several pinches of kosher salt and the penne to the boiling water. Cook the penne until al dente, about 14 minutes. Then drain and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.

Cook the tomatoes until they start to reduce and begin to resemble the consistency of a sauce, about 10 minutes at a steady simmer. Taste and add salt, as needed. This will vary depending on the saltiness of your broth. I used 1/2 teaspoon.

Stir the cream into the sauce and gently simmer for another minute. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Roughly chop the basil. Serve the pasta topped with the bail and parmesan.


If you want a smooth creamy sauce, especially if your crushed tomatoes are chunky, use a stick blender to blend the sauce before adding in the cream.

If the sauce is too thick or you plan to reheat it later, add a bit of the reserved pasta water to thin it back out.

Make sure you use a white rum, just nothing too pricey. Dark or spiced rums wouldn't work well here.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Simmering
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: pasta, basil, tomatoes, cream sauce, rum sauce, tomato sauce, vodka sauce