Rigatoni with vodka sauce is one of the most indulgent, creamy, and delicious pasta dishes out there. Typically, it’s packed with butter and heavy cream, which, while tasty, isn’t great if you’re looking to eat healthier. So, I set out to create a version that was flavorful and rich, but that won’t weigh you down.
Lightening up rigatoni with vodka sauce
A typical order of rigatoni with vodka sauce can run you 30 points+. My version comes out to about 7 points for a full cup serving, which you can then top with your favorite protein to make it a meal. A few key swaps make this version so much lighter.
First, no butter. I use Smart Balance instead, which is a WW friendly alternative that’s great for cooking, baking, etc. Second, no heavy cream. While that’s typically a key ingredient, it’s also loaded with fat and calories. Instead, I use light cream cheese to make this sauce creamy and thick. Lastly, instead of using any sugar, tomato paste adds both flavor and a natural sweetness. The rest of the flavor/goodness of this dish comes from veggies (garlic, shallot, and tomato).
What you’ll need
To make this delicious, easy meal, you’ll need a pot to make your pasta as well as a skillet to make your sauce. The components of the sauce are:
- Smart Balance
- Light Cream Cheese
- Tomato Paste
- Canned Diced Tomato
- Parmesan Cheese
- Seasonings (basil, salt, pepper)
That’s it! Odds are, you already have most of these laying around, and if not, you can swap as needed.
There are a few ways you can change this rigatoni with vodka sauce up to make it fit your specific preferences.
- You can use a dairy free cream cheese substitute, making this dish totally dairy free
- If dairy doesn’t bother you, you can use full fat cream cheese (and real butter) – just adjust the calories accordingly
- Add protein- I like to top this dish with chicken or shrimp to make it a full meal
- Mix in crispy pancetta for crunchy, salty bites throughout
- Swap the pasta for brown rice pasta (great if you’re on WW purple)
- Switch the pasta out for Zoodles or Spaghetti Squash for a low carb option
- Swap vodka for some chicken or veggie stock for less points
The pasta-bilities are really endless.
Healthy Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce
- Sauce pan
- Large Skillet
- 10 oz Whole wheat rigatoni 5 cups cooked, can use any whole wheat/grain pasta
- 1/4 cup Reserved pasta water up to 1/2 cup if needed
- 1 tsp Smart Balance
- 3 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 Shallot minced
- 3 tbsp Tomato paste
- 14 oz Diced tomatoes canned, drained
- 1/4 cup Vodka
- 1/3 cup Light cream cheese
- 1 tsp Basil dried or fresh
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black pepper
- 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese grated
- Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add Smart Balance, shallots, and garlic. Sauté until shallots and garlic start to caramelize, about 3 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and mix to form a uniform paste. Cook for about 5 minutes, moving the paste around the pan.
- Add vodka. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wood spoon and move mixture around for 4-5 minutes to cook off the alcohol.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Add cream cheese to tomato sauce and mix until combined.
- Add canned tomatoes (strained) and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 3 minutes, and add basil, salt, pepper to taste.
- Add pasta water to thin sauce as needed. Start with 1/4 cup, and add up to 1/2 cup until you reach your desired consistency.
- Add pasta to sauce and mix to coat; top with additional basil and parmesan cheese.
- Yields 1 cup per servings, 5 servings total.
3 thoughts on “Healthy Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce”
This was a super easy recipe to make (I can cook well, but sauces are not my strength). I made the sauce to serve with some scallops and pasta, so it’s also versatile. Simple ingredients, It’s super delicious, and I love that it’s a “healthier “ spin on a classic fave! My teenager (who can be a snob about sauces/Italian foods) even gave this one his approval!
I’ve always struggled to successfully make sauces…this one was super easy and DELICIOUS! Versatile enough to serve a million ways (I did mine with pasta and scallops). Two thumbs up from my teenager and my mom too!
I’m so glad to hear you loved it!