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{Recipe Redux} Pasta alla Vodka with Shrimp

by TastefullyJulie on May 21, 2012

It’s that time again for another edition of the Recipe ReDux, the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians.

This month’s theme is “Sea What You’ve Been Missing”. The challenge was to create an appealing recipe using little fishes or sea vegetables.

I couldn’t decide if this recipe would be considered cheating or not. I mean shrimp are little fishes but it’s really the sauce that’s being reduxed. I never could decide so I went for it, regardless.

Ever since I saw Katherine Martinelli’s take on a light vodka sauce using Greek yogurt I’ve been wanting to try something similar myself. I have a stand-by recipe for a delicious vodka sauce but, mostly, it just stands by. It pains me to add all that heavy cream to an otherwise perfectly healthy sauce.

Greek yogurt turned out to be the perfect substitute for the cream in this dish. The smooth and creamy texture isn’t sacrificed at all and the yogurt even adds protein!

Since plain yogurt is naturally tangy and tart, I did find it necessary to add a touch of sugar to complete the sauce. Believe me, there’s nothing I hate more than a sweet tomato sauce but this one just needed some sweetness to balance out the flavors. Feel free to try it first without and only add sugar to your preference.

Be sure to check the bottom of this page for more fabulously reduxed recipes!

5.0 from 2 reviews

Pasta alla Vodka with Shrimp
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 35-ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ⅓ cup vodka
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • Large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 6-8 shrimp per person)

  1. Put on a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic and shallots until tender, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 20 minutes. Stir in vodka and basil and cook 20 minutes more.
  4. While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta according to package directions.
  5. Heat a large saute pan with either cooking spray or just a touch of olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper and cook until they are pink all the way through, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  6. Stir yogurt into sauce and cook until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add 1-2 teaspoons of sugar.
  7. Toss hot pasta and cooked shrimp together with the sauce and serve.

I like to use San Marzano tomatoes for sauce because I think they have a richer flavor. In my store I can only find them whole and then I crush them in a bowl, by hand. Be careful – they squirt! If you can find already crushed San Marzano tomatoes in a can I would just use those.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katherine Martinelli May 21, 2012 at 7:06 am

Yummm!! So glad you liked the addition of yogurt to the sauce in exchange for cream. Is there anything that Greek yogurt can’t improve?! I like the pinch of sugar, great idea. And the shrimp sounds wonderful as well – it’s a great way to make it even more filling so I don’t end up eating a half pound of pasta :-)
Katherine Martinelli recently posted..Pesto Pasta for #SundaySupperMy Profile


2 TastefullyJulie May 21, 2012 at 9:14 am

Thanks, Katherine! It was a great idea. I’ve substituted Greek yogurt in cream soups but never thought about pasta sauces until your post!


3 Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips May 21, 2012 at 9:27 am

I have a vodka sauce recipe I LOVE but never make because of the cream. Or I make it, and use like half the amount of cream, and it isn’t as good. I have to try this! Thanks Julie (and Katherine)!
Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips recently posted..“Greek” Chicken Caesar Salad with Polenta Croutons – May #RecipeReduxMy Profile


4 TastefullyJulie May 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I know, Brianne. Half the cream is pointless! Try the yogurt, you will love it.


5 GRAINCRAZY May 21, 2012 at 9:36 am

Yum I love shrimp. I love substituting yogurt in things too! It is amazing. Thanks!


6 TastefullyJulie May 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Thanks for stopping by!


7 emily (a nutritionist eats) May 21, 2012 at 10:28 am

Wow! I would have never thought to substitute yogurt for cream! I’ve always wondered what the vodka actually does for the sauce…any idea?
emily (a nutritionist eats) recently posted..miso butter green beansMy Profile


8 TastefullyJulie May 21, 2012 at 11:13 am

Great question, Emily. Adding alcohol brings more of the natural flavor out of the tomatoes. Wine and vodka will both do this but vodka does it without adding any other flavors.


9 CJ at Food Stories May 21, 2012 at 11:44 am

Julie … You have been nominated for my NEW Food Stories Award for Excellence in Storytelling. Check out my site for the details (foodstoriesblog dot com).
CJ at Food Stories recently posted..Food Stories Award for Excellence in StorytellingMy Profile


10 TastefullyJulie May 21, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Heading there now!


11 Part Time House Wife May 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Looks so good Julie… and that pic is amazing! I was totally prepared to share a meat-less monday with you today! lol… But I’m excited to try this one!!! YUMMO
Part Time House Wife recently posted..Garlic & Lemon Hummus … And Gardening Advice NEEDED!My Profile


12 TastefullyJulie May 21, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Thank you although I kinda hate all my pictures. I can’t wait for my new camera lens! Hurry up Amazon!


13 TastefullyJulie May 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Oh, and save your meatless recipe for next week!


14 Part Time House Wife May 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm

You’re a nut! The pics are awesome…Can’t wait to see how the new lens treats ya! I’m jealous…I really really really need a new one too :-/
Part Time House Wife recently posted..Garlic & Lemon Hummus … And Gardening Advice NEEDED!My Profile


15 Deanna Segrave-Daly May 21, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I too use Greek yogurt to lighten dishes but never thought to add to make a healthy vodka sauce – looks delish! Would be great way to induce little fishes like sardines by mashing them up in the sauce as the yogurt acidity helps temper the fish flavor.
Deanna Segrave-Daly recently posted..The Recipe ReDux: Watercress Sardine Tea SandwichesMy Profile


16 TastefullyJulie May 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Ooooh, like a vodka puttanesca sauce. You may be on to something…


17 Kristen @ Swanky Dietitian May 21, 2012 at 5:13 pm

This looks amazing!
I have just recently got into eating more fish and shrimp are one on my list that I’m loving.
Love the sauce too!


18 Choc Chip Uru May 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Classy classy classy seafood pasta my friend – beautiful :D

Choc Chip Uru
Choc Chip Uru recently posted..Rich Berry Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake: A Guest PostMy Profile


19 TastefullyJulie May 21, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Thank you very much :)


20 EA-The Spicy RD May 21, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Love this dish (minus the shrimp-something I have never acquired a taste for :-) I love using Greek Yogurt in place of cream or sour cream too. Can’t wait to try this out…maybe with sardines :-) Happy ReDux!
EA-The Spicy RD recently posted..Sea Veggie Tacos with Asian Sesame Dipping SauceMy Profile


21 Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks May 22, 2012 at 11:12 am

This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it out- this is one of my fav pasta’s but don’t make it often because of all the cream. This is definitely a keeper. Thanks for sharing!
Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks recently posted..S’Mores BrowniesMy Profile


22 Purabi Naha May 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm

You have really made a healthy version of this dish by adding yogurt. I loved this. And more so because it is low-fat!!


23 Abby May 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Oh love this! Vodka sauce is my fav, great idea making a lighter version.
Abby recently posted..Apricot SalsaMy Profile


24 Carole May 22, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Hi, just to let you know that I added this post to StumbleUpon for you. Someone did this for my corned beef post and its page views just shot up exponentiallly. I hope that works for you too.
If it does, and you want to, you could like one of my posts that you liked in StumbleUpon too – but you do have to register with them (it’s free) and then download their toolbar – probably too much hassle.
Thanks Carole’s Chatter


25 Choc Chip Uru May 23, 2012 at 6:40 am

Congrats my friend, I have nominated you for the Food Stories Award for Excellence in Storytelling :D
Enjoy it right here:

Choc Chip Uru
Choc Chip Uru recently posted..Picnic Time!My Profile


26 Amber @ Chocolate Broccoli May 24, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I often use Greek yogurt for lightening up sauces and soups. What a great recipe! Anything including shrimp and I’m all in- Thanks for sharing!
Amber @ Chocolate Broccoli recently posted..Inside My FridgeMy Profile


27 Serena May 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Yum! I’ve been looking for a good vodka sauce! Thanks for doing all the work …and taste-testing for me!!


28 TastefullyJulie May 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Any time!


29 Katya May 26, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I love pasta! I love shrimp! Thanks for the recipe!


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