Melt the butter, if using, in a large sauce pot. Then add the shallots and sauté until translucent, approx 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds or so. Now add the sliced mushrooms and continue to sauté until the mushrooms are reduced. This will take about 3-4 minutes.
Next, pour in the vodka, and stir continuously until absorbed, about 1 minute. Then pour in the tomato sauce, salt and oregano and let your sauce simmer over medium/low heat for about 20-25 minutes.
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil, and cook your penne according to the package directions for al dente pasta.
Meanwhile, add your white beans and coconut milk to a blender and process until smooth. Set aside.
Once your sauce is cooked, turn off the heat and pour in the bean and coconut milk mixture. Stir until combined. Taste and add a little more salt and pepper if you'd like.
Drain your pasta and serve with a generous serving of the vodka sauce. Garnish with fresh chives or vegan parmesan cheese, if desired.
Don't skip the vodka. The vodka's purpose in this dish is to intensify and release the flavours in the tomato sauce. After all it's a vegan vodka sauce! If you don't have vodka, you may substitute for white wine with similar results. The alcohol content will cook out in the sauce, but if you're avoiding alcohol for health reasons, you may skip it with slightly different results.Cook your pasta 'al dente'. Al dente pasta is typically 1-3 minutes "underdone". This is how Italians eat their pasta. We like a little bit of bite, as opposed to a mushy mess. Since the hot vegan vodka sauce will continue cooking the pasta more once served, it's always best to slightly under cook pasta.For even richer sauce, use full fat coconut milk. In order to keep the fat content lower, I typically use light. But if you're having company, or it's a special occasion, or just a night that you're splurging, full fat coconut milk will make all the difference in your vegan penne alla vodka.If you don't have white beans, you may sub for 1/2 cup raw cashews and blend up with the coconut milk or use water. Or, use a 300g package of soft or silken tofu blended up and skip the milk or water. Keep in mind the cashews will increase the calories and fat, and no longer be nut free. The tofu option won't have a huge impact on calories and fat (especially since you're skipping the coconut milk), but the dish will no longer be soy free.For coconut free: you may use any plant based milk you like, bearing in mind the results will be slightly less creamy and rich. Soy milk and cashew milk work well with similar results.Your vegan penne alla vodka will keep refrigerated in a sealed container for 3-4 days, just reheat and serve.You may freeze the sauce, separately for up to 2 months but freshly cooked pasta tastes best.