Wholemeal casarecce with vodka tomato sauce

Article | Jul 2023

Celebrate one of life’s simplest pleasures in Pasta et Al: The Many Shapes of a Family Tradition, a joyous cookbook featuring 60 classic recipes for handmade pasta.


Alec Morris was taught how to cook fresh pasta by his nonna as a child, and now carries on the tradition every Sunday with his young sons, Aldo and Elio. The weekly family ritual became a successful blog, which grew into an international community drawn together by an irresistible blend of recipes served with a pinch of humour, plenty of heart, and some delightfully meddling little hands.

Join Al, Al and El as we make ‘Wholemeal casarecce with vodka tomato sauce’. Yum!


Wholemeal casarecce with vodka tomato sauce


At what point does a non-traditional dish become a classic? Pasta et Al is hardly one to actually care – as long as you enjoy it, cook it – but I think that Italian-American inventions like the old vodka tomato sauce have been around and loved for long enough to warrant a mention here as a classic. There’s a smooth, glossy something to this dish that really hits the spot in a unique way. To those in uproar over cooking pasta with cream, firstly: get over it; secondly, we may actually have a sneaky preference for mascarpone anyway. Do whatever makes you happy.

As with many of these simpler sauces, we enjoy a heartier, earthier pasta dough, so we’ve gone for wholemeal (whole-wheat). Formed with the double-fold, these tasty little casarecce slurp in all that velvety goodness.

1 x quantity 00 and semolina dough (see below), made with wholemeal (whole-wheat) flour in place of semolina
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 handful of fresh basil leaves
200 ml (7 fl oz) passata (pureed tomatoes)
sugar, salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
80 ml (2 ½ fl oz/⅓ cup) vodka
100 ml (3 ½ fl oz) thickened (whipping) cream or mascarpone
grated hard cheese, to serve


Roll the dough into long ropes of 1 cm (½ in) in diameter and then cut into 5 cm (2 in) lengths; form casarecce (see Casarecce: below).

Gently sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat for 4–5 minutes until fragrant but not browning. Crush the basil leaves in your hands, then add to the frying pan for another 30-45 seconds until a vibrant green.

Stir in the passata, seasoning with a pinch of sugar and salt as required, and cook for 10–15 minutes until thick and halved in volume.

Pour the vodka into the tomato sauce and allow it to cook for 2–3 minutes until mostly evaporated.

Boil the casarecce in a large pot of salted water for 4–5 minutes until done. Drain and retain a cup of pasta water.

In a mixing bowl, gradually stir around half a cup of pasta water into the cream. This will help it come up to temperature without splitting. Pour this into the frying pan and stir to combine.

Add the casarecce to the sauce, using a little pasta water as required to bring it together.

Serve with grated cheese and cracked pepper.

Pasta Et Al

This is a sauce that pairs really well with both short and long pasta. Give it a try with bucatini or spaghetti.


It seems that I like casarecce with a bit of booze in the sauce, but you can leave out the alcohol for a simple tomato and cream sauce.


  • 440 g (151/2 oz) semolina
  • 240 ml (8 fl oz) warm water
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 240 g (81/2 oz) 00 flour
  • 120 g (41/2 oz) semolina
  • 220 ml (71/2 fl oz) warm water


TUTORIAL – Casarecce

This simple pasta is a quick and delightful shape, smooth and firm, with a grooved surface perfect for collecting all of your saucy goodness.

1    Roll an eggless pasta dough (see page 22) out into long ropes of around 1 cm (®ˆ in) in diameter.

2    Cut into approximately 5 cm (2 in) lengths

3    Align a ferretto, narrow dowel, or knitting needle horizontally along each piece of pasta, slightly off-centre and roll gently towards one edge. Apply gentle downward pressure as you go, so that the dough rolls slightly up and around the dowel.

4   Allow it to flip, and then lay a second dowel over the turned-over dough. Roll both together, shaping the dough into an s-shape around them. Slide free.

Note: For a simpler method, producing a c-shape, press a dowel once into the centre of each length.

This is an edited extract from Pasta et Al by Alec Morris published by Hardie Grant Books. Photography: Alec Morris

Visit Pasta et al’s website

Author: Alec Morris

Category: Lifestyle, Sport & leisure

Book Format: Hardback

Publisher: Hardie Grant Books

ISBN: 9781743799000

RRP: $49.99

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