Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce with Bacon + Giveaway!

Bryan and I disagree about our favorite pasta shapes.

For him, thicker is better. Chewier always wins. Long and fat is better than short and skinny. The ultimate goal? The ability to wrap the noodles around a fork into a big, dense ball so that he can create the chewiest, thickest bite of them all.

Me? First of all, I love sauce. So, the more nooks and cranny that a pasta shape has, the better. Radiatore or Fusilli are typically my favorites, though I also love a good angel hair.

One thing we both agree on – we don’t like mushy pasta. Al dente all the way.

Dried Pasta with Really Good Texture?
This company called Pasta Lensi contacted me in January and asked me whether I wanted to try some of their dried pasta.

Well, Bryan loves pasta and is always looking for that perfect texture when it comes to pasta, so . . . why not? Hey, you never know.

Seriously, I didn’t have super high expectations. Bryan is pretty picky when it comes to pasta texture. He almost always orders the handmade pasta option at a restaurant, almost regardless of the sauce with which it is paired. The pasta comes first!

I decided to make one of my standards – a great tomato vodka cream sauce recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (see end of post). I make this dish all the time, so I thought it would be interesting to compare a new pasta brand with an age-old recipe.

The Verdict?
According to Bryan, “this is the best dried pasta I have ever had.” It far beats out all the other dried pastas we’ve ever tried. Granted, we haven’t tried too many really expensive artisanal dried pastas, but we have tried reasonably well known Italian brands, like de Cecco and Barilla, for instance.

I have to agree that the texture of this pasta is superior to your normal supermarket boxed pastas. We had been buying de Cecco before, which is still very good, but this one is noticeably better. The pasta doesn’t go mushy easily.  Typically I try to take out my pastas as soon as possible because they become unbearably soft and mushy so quickly if I don’t cool them down quickly. This pasta is unusually dense, or something, making it much harder to accidentally overcook and ruin.

Bryan told me to give away the rest of our pasta boxes and just order Lensi from now on.

Pasta Lensi online

Just a bit of background
Pasta Lensi is an Italian pasta company that has been making pasta since 1920. Their pasta is still not widely available in grocery stores right now, although you can buy it on online at Amazon. Pasta Lensi is a bit more expensive than normal, but if you buy in bulk online, it’s comparable to the cheaper pastas.

Giveaway Details
The folks at Pasta Lensi were kind enough to give me TWO sample gift bags so that a couple of you could try this amazing pasta.  Each bag (a Pasta Lensi cloth tote) contains two bags of dried pasta to try.

Seriously, this stuff is really good, and Bryan and I are totally planning on buying a bulk pack soon. We just need to agree on a shape!

To Enter the Giveaway:

For one entry: comment below telling me your favorite way of preparing or eating pasta!

For an extra entry: tweet the link ( to the giveaway and mention @tinyurbankitchn [easiest way is probably to just tweet the example tweet below). Please also comment below telling me that you tweeted.

Example tweet: @tinyurbankitchn is giving away two gourmet Italian pasta gift bags! Check it out here:

For a third entry: please share a link to this post on facebook. Again, please comment below telling me that you linked on facebook and tell me where to look for your link.

Here’s my answer to the question:

I love a simple pasta tossed with fresh mozzarella, vine-ripen tomatoes, basil, and olive oil. I also love anything with white alba truffles!

Giveaway ends SUNDAY, March 13th at midnight.

Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce with Bacon

Slightly modified from Cook’s Illustrated

1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes , drained, liquid reserved
1 T olive oil
3 ounces of pancetta (can substitute bacon)
1/2 small onion , minced (about 1/4 cup)
1 T tomato paste
2 medium cloves garlic , minced
1/2 t hot red pepper flakes
1/3 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound pasta
Fresh basil leaves

Puree in a food processor about half of the tomatoes from the can (around 5-6). Dice the other half. Combine the puree and diced tomatoes in a 2-cup measuring cup and add the reserve liquid from the can until you have 2 cups total. Cook the pancetta in a pan until crisp (about 5-10 minutes). Remove from pan and place on paper towels. Pour off most of the oil, leaving 2 T.

Saute the onions and tomato paste in the remaining fat until the onions are shiny and a bit translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.

Stir in tomatoes and a tiny pinch of salt. Stir.

Remove the pot from the heating source and slowly pour in the vodka. Bring the pot back to the heating source. Turn heat back up to medium high and boil off the alcohol (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, bring a bot of water to boil to cook the pasta. Cook pasta until al dente.

Once the alcohol has boiled off, add the cream and stir it in until hot – about 1 minute.

Mix the sauce with the cooked pasta. Stir in the freshly cut basil and the bacon. Add freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Time to time I receive free products, meals, etc. as a food blogger. I do not receive any payment for blog posts/reviews nor am I required to write a post when I receive free products, meals, etc. The views expressed in this post are completely my own. The pasta in this post was provided for free by Pasta Lensi.

©2009-2014 Tiny Urban Kitchen
All Rights Reserved

Latest Chinese recipes!



  1. Robin says

    I had some tomatoes that were on their way to going bad, so for breakfast the other morning, I mixed them with a little bit of tomato sauce, some minced garlic, olive oil, and basil, and stirred that into some whole wheat spaghetti. It was definitely a power breakfast!

  2. Thundor says

    I like to eat my pasta in a simple salad w/ lemon juice & jalapeños, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots & turkey meatballs :) yummie yummie

  3. Hawley says

    My hands down favorite way is to make a simple garlic, olive oil, and white wine sauce, and then sprinkle very generously with good quality crumbled bleu cheese and cracked black pepper. The cheese melts and it is unbelievable. Yum!

  4. says

    I am Italian. And at the beginning of every winter or late fall, I prepare a ridiculously large batch of spaghetti sauce – my family’s recipe. I start it early in the morning and it simmers all day with meatballs, hot italian sausage and sometimes a pork chop and chicken leg for flavor. This is great when guests come over because, for dinner, all I have to do is put the pasta on right before and throw some garlic bread in the oven.

    I freeze the rest in little batches to use throughout the winter for spaghetti, lasagna (the Hubs fave), manicotti and stuffed shells.

  5. youngmi says

    i’ll eat in any way. i love my cousin’s thick, cheesy mostaccioli, i could live off of pasta salads in the summer, and i think mushroom ravioli is one of the greatest things ever invented. and i have a habit of standing at the stove and eating up plain pasta while i wait for my sauce to finish cooking 😛

  6. Parsley Sage says

    Tough call! Right now I’m all about spicy italian sausage, tomato and garlic on my pasta. Om nom. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    I also tweeted your post :)

  7. Matt Stephens says

    All summer long I love angel hair tossed with browned butter cut with olive oil, meyer lemon zest & juice, fresh basil, parmesan and bread crumbs. Such amazing, light flavors, but still hearty enough to fill up on.

  8. Bernadine says

    For a quick meal, I love to just take a bottle of sauce and add onions, mushrooms, ground beef, chili flakes and parmesan and make it “gourmet.” Will have to try your vodka cream sauce!

  9. Avneetks says

    I love to saute garlic and pinenuts with a few big handfuls mixed fresh italian herbs in really good olive cooking oil, and toss it with linguini. SO good.

  10. Kari G. says

    In a light vermouth cream sauce, tossed with sauteed garlic and mushrooms. Topped with a few shavings of parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil.

  11. Julia says

    This definitely looks like a pasta worth trying. I had never heard of it. Thanks for the heads-up! My favorite pasta dish is probably orecchiette with pan-seared broccoli and cauliflower as well as garlic, olives, parsley, toasted bread crumbs, a healthy dose of EVOO, and freshly grated Parmesan. I’m veg, but my non-veg, olive-hating partner puts crispy prosciutto on his dish!

  12. Caitlin says

    I love pasta pretty much any way it comes, but sometimes, just the noodles, butter and cheese is the best way to go!

  13. says

    Choosing a favorite pasta dish is tough, but I have to say I really enjoyed the sweet potato mac & brie cheese that I posted a while back! I have so much fun creating new pasta sauces at home, and would love the chance to try this pasta.

  14. Lpagington says

    What a delicious recipe! My favorite is from when I was a kid–pasta tossed with a little butter and cheese. My favorite type of pasta is just like yours…the more nooks and crannies the better!

  15. says

    I’m with you! I love the shapes with the nooks and crannies for the sauce! A simple tomato sauce and some fusili is my idea of a perfect weeknight dinner!

  16. Channon says

    I love pasta so many ways. I think my favorite way to prepare it at home is to make a light wine sauce with petite diced tomatoes, black olives, artichoke and spinach, and toss it all with linguine topped crumbled feta. Or my homemade chicken marsala, with enough sauce to coat the pasta too.

  17. Kat Polkadot says

    I like making this dish ‘creamy taco mac’. It’s really great…except I’ve yet to make version endention of the meaty dish since I’ve been vegetarian. Don’t know how it’ll hold up!

  18. says

    An old standby is to simmer chopped canned whole tomatoes, with several smashed cloves of garlic, and grated carrots. Toss with pasta, olive oil, and freshly grated parmesan. Top with sauteed greens (either kale or collard greens).

  19. Varun says

    Best way for me? Hot pasta with sun-dried tomato olive oil, garlic, and a little oregano. All done, and super-yummy.

  20. says

    I love vodka sauce and with the addition of bacon I am so there, but my favorite pasta is carbonara. It is such a simple dish, but it defines “comfort” to me. I have been trying to perfect it for years.
    Tweeted at FigsArtichokes

  21. says

    I too have become picky about my pasta and really only enjoy it fresh…ideally with a tomato based seafood sauce, I love the way the juices from the seafood mingle with the sauce and the fresh pasta…I’m curious to taste this dried product after your races!

  22. maegan says

    There are so many good sauces, Pesto is a staple but my absolute favorite is vodka sauce with fresh basil and mushrooms!

  23. Lollychops says

    What a great giveaway! I have been eating de Cecco for a long long time and I just love it! My favorite way of having pasta is with a vodka cream sauce, fresh basil and meatballs. Nothing fancy… just homey and good! Thanks for the chance to win!

  24. Debbirich says

    I love pasta any way you can prepare. Pasta with caramelized onions and cottage cheese is always good.

  25. Cindij says

    I love fettucine with goat cheese, a little heavy cream, red pepper flakes mixed together, with chives, arugula, and bacon added at the end. I also love perfectly cooked spaghetti with homemade pesto and toasted walnuts. One more- baked macaroni or rigatoni mac and cheese with peas. Nothin’ like pasta on a cold winter night!

  26. says

    I love pasta best when my mom cooks it at home. Sauce from the jar, plenty of onions and garlic, and generous chunks of Jimmy Dean sausage is absolute heaven with a helping of childhood memories. :)

  27. chika says

    My favorite way of eating pasta is simply cooking it al dente, tossing it with a little bit of olive oil, and putting some freshly grated Parmesan on it. (I also like to sneak some with just salt and no utensils– just fingers– like back when I was a kid.)

  28. says

    I have to say, I am pretty picky about my pasta as well. I grew up in a De Cecco household although now I much prefer to just suck it up and make my own, at least for stringy shapes like spaghetti and angel hair. I love finding pasta with a good texture, though and this sauce that you’ve paired it with sounds so delicious!

  29. Melissa says

    If I’m making a thick pasta with lots of ridges, I’ve got to pair it with a heavy cream, red sauce. If I have an angelhair pasta ready to go, all I really need is some olive oil and simmered garlic with the juice of a lemon and some fresh grated peccorino romano cheese! YUM!

  30. Angel Monique says

    The dish looks fabulous and I LOVE pasta! It’s one of my favorite things to make as it can be paired with so many things and so many good wines. My favorite dish is my own fettuccini pasta with home made alfredo sauce, roasted grape tomatoes, crispy prosciutto and shrimp, topped with fresh grated parmagianno reggiano. For a side, I do garlic french bread and for the veggie roasted asparagus. YUMMY!

    Thanks for the opportunity to win! I love your blog!

  31. Allison says

    Any combination of butter, good cheese and cream. Exquisite additions: crumbled bacon, a bit of tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, mushrooms and/or some very rare beef slices.

  32. Cavitybuster says

    I enjoy making pasta salads during the summer, w/japanese influence (tobiko, mayo, red pepper, crab & veggies)!

  33. says

    I’m not a huge pasta fan but when I do eat it, I mix canned, diced tomoatoes with cream, lots of garlic, onion, olive oil and salt & pepper… if I have basil that goes in too! Spaghettini is my favourite noodle and I like my pasta extra saucy!

  34. jentinyurbankitchen says

    It adds a depth of flavor that’s hard to describe specifically. I know there are some people who can even pick out whether a good vodka or a cheap one has been used! I haven’t tried all these permutations, but at the end of the day, I believe it deepens the flavor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *