Dinner Tonight: Rigatoni & Shrimp with Vodka Sauce

When I was in college, there was an Italian restaurant just off-campus, Mario & Luigi’s, which had an all-you-can-eat pasta night on Mondays. My go-to dish was penne alla vodka. Oh it was so good!

Of course it was loaded with calories and fat, but at 19 I didn’t really care that much. Now though? Yeah, I care.

About a year ago I found a penne with vodka sauce recipe on Weight Watchers that had rave reviews. Could it be too good to be true? Nope! And my picky Italian husband – he loves it! He cannot believe it’s a Weight Watchers recipe.  And better yet, he calls this dish “blog worthy.”

I’ve adapted the recipe quite a bit. For one, my husband’s favorite noodle shape is rigatoni and it sops up the sauce better. For another, it needed protein, so I’ve added shrimp. Also, it seemed like such a waste not to use the whole small can of tomato paste and box of pasta, so I usually use all of it. To make up for those tweaks, I substitute fat-free half-and-half for heavy whipping cream.

This is definitely a meal you can cook on a work night. I can usually make this in a half hour or less. Also, if you have leftovers, it reheats very well.

Rigatoni & Shrimp alla Vodka Sauce

Adapted from Penne with Vodka Sauce recipe on Weight Watchers

Serves: 6


  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, separated
  • 2 medium shallots, minced (about ½ cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
  • ½ tsp. coarse sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
  • 6 oz. canned tomato paste
  • 2 oz. vodka (use a quality vodka, not the cheap stuff)
  • 1 lb. uncooked rigatoni
  • ½ cup fat-free half-and-half
  • 20 leaf/leaves basil, fresh, cut into ribbons


Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add half of the butter, shallots and garlic. Sauté until shallots start to caramelize, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add parsley, sea salt and pepper, stirring once or twice. Add tomato paste and mix to form a paste. Cook for about 5 minutes, moving paste around pan occasionally so it doesn’t burn. Add vodka. Scrape the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon and cook for about 5 minutes more.

At the same time, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the rest of the butter and raw shrimp (peeled and deveined) and sauté for about 5 minutes.

While everything is cooking, bring a medium pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to directions on the box and then drain.

Add half-and-half to tomato sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 3 minutes.

Add shrimp and pasta to sauce and mix to coat. Serve and top with basil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

Weight Watchers PointsPlus value: 10 points

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2 Responses to Dinner Tonight: Rigatoni & Shrimp with Vodka Sauce

  1. Pingback: A Blast at Cooking Class « sweetlyvegan

  2. Julie Cefalu says:

    This is my kind of dinner! I love vodka sauce too but hesitate to cook it because of all those calories. I’ll give this a try.

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