Gluten Free Penne with Pancetta and Asparagus in Vodka Sauce

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Step-by-step instructions for making traditional creamy tomato vodka sauce with crispy pancetta and grilled fresh asparagus - It’s truly restaurant-worthy!


  • 1 box Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Brown Rice Penne
  • 1 large bunch asparagus, (about 2 cups)
  • 6 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 1 small leek, (white and light green parts) rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • grated parmesan cheese, for sprinkling


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook penne until just tender, 8 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  

Coat the asparagus lightly with olive oil and grill it in a grill pan on the stove or outside on a barbeque grill.  (you may wish to roast or blanch instead.) Once the asparagus is grilled on all sides and crisp but tender (about 8 minutes), remove from grill and let cool. Cut into 1-inch long pieces and set aside.  

Next, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté pancetta until brown and crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Set aside.

Pour out all but one tablespoon of the pancetta drippings from the skillet and add the leeks to the pan.   Sauté until soft (about 3 minutes) and then add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Carefully pour the vodka into the pan and boil until reduced by half.  Stir in the tomatoes, half-and-half, Worcestershire sauce, and red pepper flakes (to taste).  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the sauce is thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the basil, pancetta and asparagus to the sauce and cook over low heat for a few minutes or until heated through.  

Scoop the pasta onto individual plates and top with the sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.

Makes 6 to 8 servings Print this Recipe

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