Pumpkin alla Vodka Pasta

5 from 16 votes
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Pumpkin alla Vodka Pasta with golden mushrooms and ribbons of kale tossed in vegan vodka sauce. This vegan pumpkin pasta is perfect for easy fall dinners, and sure to become a family favorite.

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Pumpkin pasta in a white pasta bowl garnished with Parmesan and fresh thyme.

Why You’ll Love this Pumpkin Pasta:

This luscious vodka sauce is miles ahead of anything you may find jarred in the pasta aisle.

Pumpkin puree and coconut milk lend luxurious creaminess while keeping it completely plant-based. A dash of nutmeg adds sweet spice to the amplify the fall flavor and bring out the essence of pumpkin.

You could choose to keep the sauce unembellished, however I love adding veggies for extra oomph.

Golden mushrooms and ribbons of kale are hearty, earthy compliments to the bright acidity of the sauce. Alternatively, you could add sautéed spinach to power up the nutrient ante.

This recipe is a quick, filling one-dish entree loaded with fiber and essential nutrients.

And if you love fall-inspired dinners like this, also check out this Stuffed Acorn Squash and Pumpkin Red Lentil Soup.

The Ingredients:

Recipe ingredients in separate bowls on a wooden platter with labels.
  • Pumpkin Puree: Since canned pumpkin is unsweetened, it simply adds bright vegetal flavor, body, and a slew of nutrients, including fiber and beta-carotene.
  • Coconut Milk: Classic vodka sauce calls for heavy cream and Parmesan, however this vegan pumpkin pasta uses coconut milk to achieve rich creaminess. Coconut milk is very mild in flavor, so you don’t have to worry about tasting any actual coconut in the sauce.
  • Tomato Paste: Not only does tomato paste add color, body, and bright acidity, but it also ups the savoriness and complexity factor. The trick, however, is to cook the paste until it turns brick red in color. Allowing it to caramelize takes away the raw tomato flavor, therefore unlocking its full flavor potential.
  • Nutmeg: The addition of nutmeg is what adds flavor that is decidedly fall and perfect for seasonal entertaining.
  • Onion: Use yellow or sweet onion for an aromatic foundation.
  • Garlic: 3 or 4 cloves will do the trick!
  • Vodka: the alcohol creates a brighter, creamier, more cohesive sauce.
  • Pasta: Use any shape you like, however I love using rigatoni. You can also use a gluten free pasta, such as one that is chickpea or lentil-based.
  • Veggies: For extra oomph, I love adding sautéed mushrooms and kale.
  • Thyme: To round out the enticing fall flavors.

For a complete list of ingredients and quantities, see the recipe card below.

Rigatoni tossed in vegan pumpkin sauce in a white serving bowl.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Step 1: Sauté Veggies and Aromatics. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onion; cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg; cook 1 minute, until fragrant.

Step 2: Add Tomato Paste, and cook until caramelized. Add vodka to deglaze pan, stirring to scrape up browned bits of tomato paste. Cook 1 to 2 minutes to allow some of the alcohol to cook off.

Mushrooms, onion, tomato paste, and garlic being sautéed in a white pan.

Step 3: Add Pumpkin Puree and Coconut Milk; reduce heat to low.

Pumpkin puree and coconut milk being added to the pan to create sauce.

Step 4: Boil Pasta, adding kale during the final minute. Add cooked pasta and kale to pumpkin sauce, along with some of the pasta cooking water, and stir to combine.

Rigatoni being tossed in vodka sauce in a large pot.

Step 5: Garnish with fresh thyme, and serve!

Recipe FAQs

Does Vodka Sauce have Alcohol in it?

In short, yes–classic vodka sauce calls for vodka because the alcohol creates a brighter, creamier, more cohesive sauce.
The trick is to make sure to cook the vodka for a full minute to evaporite the harsh booziness. Once those flavors dissipate, the vodka creates a nicely balanced sauce that packs a bit more heat and bright aroma.

What Kind of Pasta Goes with Vodka Sauce?

The classic pasta shapes for vodka sauce are penne and rigatoni, however you can also use bucatini or linguine.
It’s also fun to use a spiral shape like cavatappi or fusilli so the sauce can fill every nook and cranny of the noodle.

Can Kids Eat Vodka Sauce?

Some of the alcohol will evaporate as the sauce simmers, making the actual alcohol index of the sauce pretty low. A well-cooked vodka sauce is perfectly safe for kids to eat.

How to Store and Reheat:

  • Store: Transfer leftover pasta to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Reheat: Rewarm individual portions in the microwave, stopping to stir every 30 seconds to promote even heating. You may also want to add a splash of water or broth to help rehydrate the sauce.
  • Freeze: Freeze leftovers in a freezer-safe container or zip-top storage bag for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Pumpkin pasta styled in a white bowl topped with shredded Parmesan cheese and thyme.

More Vegan Pasta Recipes to Try:

If you give this vegan pumpkin pasta a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates! I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review.

5 from 16 votes

Pumpkin alla Vodka Pasta

Pumpkin alla Vodka Pasta with golden mushrooms and ribbons of kale tossed in vegan vodka sauce. This healthy weeknight pasta recipe is perfect for easy fall dinners, and sure to become a family favorite.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients  

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. freshy grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup canned full-fat coconut milk or heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 lb. dry rigatoni pasta
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale (stemmed and chopped) (sub 4 cups fresh baby spinach)
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional) omit if making vegan, or use a sprinkle of nutritional yeast
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Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onion; cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt.
  • Add tomato paste, garlic, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg; mix to combine. Cook until the tomato paste caramelizes and turns brick red, about 3 minutes.
    Add vodka to deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Cook 3 to 5 minutes to allow some of the alcohol to evaporate. Stir in pumpkin puree, coconut milk (or heavy cream), remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of black pepper; reduce heat to low.
  • Once pasta water is boiling, add rigatoni and cook until almost al dente. Add kale during final minute of cooking. (Note: if you're using spinach, add it to the vodka sauce rather than the boiling pasta water. Spinach needs much less heat and cooking time.)
  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer cooked pasta and kale to the pan with vodka sauce. (Or, reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, and drain pasta and kale.)
    Stir in pasta cooking water in 1/2 cup increments until the sauce turns smooth and glossy and coats pasta (I use 1 cup total). Stir in fresh thyme leaves and garnish with Parmesan, if desired.

Notes

  • Store: Transfer leftover pasta to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Reheat: Rewarm individual portions in the microwave, stopping to stir every 30 seconds to promote even heating. You may also want to add a splash of water or broth to help rehydrate the sauce.
  • Freeze: Freeze leftovers in a freezer-safe container or zip-top storage bag for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups | Calories: 467kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 500mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 9g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

If you love this recipe, please leave a star rating and review below!
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20 Comments

  1. Al says:

    5 stars
    Delicious! Even my husband who normally complains if a meal doesn’t have meat asked me to make this again. I subbed just shy of 1/2 chicken broth and 1 tbsp ACV for the vodka and topped with Parmesan cheese