Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

I follow quite a few food bloggers, so I see tons of amazing recipes on a regular basis. Sometimes, though, I come across something that makes me think, "I have to try this immediately!"

That's exactly what happened when I saw this recipe for Cajun chicken pasta ... I made it within a week or so after it popped up on my Bloglovin feed.

I honestly don't know why I waited so long to post it here. I think I just had a bunch of other pasta recipes I wanted to share and, since I didn't want my Tasty Tuesday posts to become focused solely on pasta, I had to make sure I was writing about other types of meals as well. (Though, let's be honest, I love pasta and could easily post a million pasta dishes on this blog.)

 photo CreamyCajunChickenPasta_zpskc5aplbp.jpg
Creamy and flavorful with a bit of a kick, this delicious meal is sure to impress!

I expected this recipe to turn out well (I mean, how can you go wrong with pasta, chicken, fresh vegetables, and a creamy sauce?), but I didn't know it would be this good. It's simple enough for a casual weeknight dinner, but delicious enough to impress guests. So if you're looking for a new pasta dish to try, I highly recommend giving this one a shot.

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Cooking Classy.

Ingredient List:
  • 1 box short pasta (I used Garofalo organic casarecce from Costco)
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic (or, if you're lazy like me, the equivalent of jarred, pre-minced garlic)
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced into thin strips
  • Cajun seasoning (I didn't use an actual Cajun seasoning blend, but you'll want to use approximately 6-8 tsp if you're using a store bought blend. You can obviously use this if you want to make things easier, or you can make your own by whisking together 2 1/2 tsp paprika, 2 tsp sea salt, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 1/4 tsp oregano, 1 1/4 tsp thyme, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp black pepper, and at least 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. If you want more heat, add 1 tsp or more. I used 1 tsp cayenne pepper and the sauce had a nice kick but wasn't overly spicy.)


1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2.  Heat a grill over medium high heat.

3.  Rub the chicken on both sides with 1 tbsp olive oil and approximately 2 tsp of the Cajun seasoning. Grill the chicken until it has cooked through and no pink remains. 

4.  Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the grill and place it on a cutting board. Allow the chicken to rest for about 5 minutes, then slice it into thin strips.

5.  While the chicken is on the grill, add the pasta to the boiling water. Cook according to package directions and drain. (Be sure to reserve 1/3 cup of the pasta water before draining!)

6.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, stir in the garlic and flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. While whisking, slowly pour in the milk. Continue whisking vigorously in order to smooth any lumps in the sauce.

7.  Add 3 tsp of the Cajun seasoning to the sauce, stirring well to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce the heat to low. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and heavy cream, cooking until the cheese has melted into the sauce. Once the cheese has melted, remove the sauce from heat and set it aside.

8.  Heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the red and yellow peppers, red onion, and remaining Cajun seasoning. Cook until the vegetables have just softened (this should only take a few minutes).

9.  Toss the drained pasta with the pepper and onions, then pour the sauce over the mixture, stirring to coat evenly. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, add the reserved pasta water 1 tbsp at a time until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. (I prefer thick, creamy sauces on my pasta, so I actually didn't use any of the reserved pasta water when I made this. It's definitely a personal preference, though, so I'd suggest saving some of the pasta water just in case the sauce is too thick for your tastes.)

I will say that although the leftovers weren't terrible by any means, they weren't amazing. The sauce separated a bit upon reheating, and the flavors weren't as rich. If you want to avoid having so-so leftovers, I'd suggest cutting this recipe in half. 

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