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Cajun Chicken & Pasta

Total Time

Prep: 10 min. + standing Cook: 35 min.

Makes

6 servings

This kicked-up cajun chicken pasta recipe is a family favorite and my most requested dish. It's easy to adapt, too. Swap in shrimp for the chicken, add your favorite veggies, adjust the spice level to your family's taste—you can't go wrong! —Dolly Kragel, Smithland, Iowa

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2x1/2-in. strips
  • 3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta (about 2-1/3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pepper to taste
  • Chopped plum tomatoes
  • Minced fresh basil
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Toss chicken with Cajun seasoning; let stand 15 minutes. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat; saute chicken until no longer pink, 5-6 minutes. Remove from pan.
  3. In same pan, heat remaining butter over medium-high heat; saute peppers, mushrooms and green onions until peppers are crisp-tender, 6-8 minutes. Stir in cream and seasonings; bring to a boil. Cook and stir until slightly thickened, 4-6 minutes. Stir in pasta and chicken; heat through. Top with tomatoes and basil. Sprinkle with cheese.

Cajun Chicken & Pasta Tips

What is the best Cajun seasoning to use?

The best Cajun seasoning is the one you like best! There are lots of spice blends on the market, everything from major spice labels to smaller independent merchants. What they'll all have in common is peppers (black pepper, cayenne and potentially more), garlic and paprika. You can make your own basic blend and then add different spices to suit your preference.

What other ingredients can you add for variations on Cajun chicken pasta?

You can easily add vegetables to this dish to make a whole meal in one; cut green beans or small broccoli florets would go in nicely. In place of all or part of the chicken, you can use shrimp or sliced andouille sausage. Check out some other cajun recipes for inspiration! You can also use the basic recipe as a springboard for other flavor profiles; instead of Cajun seasoning, use Italian seasoning and stir in some spinach in the final steps for a chicken Florentine skillet. Southwest seasonings would go well with a drained can of black beans or corn.

Can you freeze Cajun chicken pasta?

You can freeze this Cajun chicken pasta, but your approach should be different if you're freezing as meal prep or freezing leftovers. For leftovers, freeze in airtight containers, then thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then heat in a skillet just long enough to heat through. Fair warning—fully cooked pasta can get mushy during the reheating process, so be careful not to overcook. If you’re cooking the whole meal as a freeze-it-for-later meal prep, cook the pasta just to al dente. Freeze the pasta and the chicken mixture separately. Reheat the chicken mixture in a skillet; drop the pasta in boiling water for just a minute or two to heat it through, then add it to the chicken mixture. For more, check out our guide to freezing pasta.

Research contributed by Hazel Wheaton, Taste of Home Book Editor

Nutrition Facts

1 serving: 398 calories, 21g fat (12g saturated fat), 97mg cholesterol, 357mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 2g fiber), 22g protein.