Creamy Cajun Pasta with Chicken
and bell peppers / spinach
This spicy and creamy pasta is loaded with colorful vegetables. We've given it a pretty significant makeover, but it is inspired by a meal we featured in 2015.
Smarts: The bell peppers are added at the end of cooking so that they retain some crunch. If you’d like them more tender (or if they are in large pieces), you can add them at the beginning of cooking with the garlic.
- Jerk or Cajun seasoning - 1 Tbsp
- Brown sugar - 1 tsp
- Cinnamon - 1/2 tsp
- Soy sauce, low-sodium - 1 Tbsp
- Vinegar, red or white wine - 1 Tbsp
- Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
- Chicken breast, boneless and skinless - 1 lb, halved to thin
- Pasta, any fun shape - 8 oz
- Bell peppers, any color - 2, diced
- Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
- Green onions - 2, chopped, green and white parts separate
- Limes - 1, wedges
- Tomatoes, diced and preferably fire-roasted (14 oz / 397 g) - 1 can, drained
- Butter - 3 Tbsp
- Flour, all-purpose - 2 Tbsp
- Milk - 1 1/2 cups (sub stock but the sauce will be less creamy)
- Jerk or Cajun seasoning - 2 tsp
- Baby spinach - 5 oz
- Make marinade - (Skip if chicken was cooked on Monday.) Whisk together Jerk seasoning (portion for chicken), brown sugar, cinnamon, soy sauce, vinegar, and cooking oil. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Chicken - (Skip if chicken was cooked on Monday.) Slice in half to thin. Combine with marinade. Tenderize with a fork. Marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 day. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
- Pasta - Cook pasta according to package directions. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Bell peppers / Garlic - Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Green onions / Limes - Chop green onions, keeping green and white parts separate. Slice limes into wedges.
- Tomatoes - Drain well.
- If chicken wasn’t cooked ahead, heat a grill pan or skillet over medium heat. Brush with some cooking oil and add chicken to heated oil (discard marinade). Cook chicken on both sides, seasoning with some salt and pepper as it cooks, until cooked through (165F / 74C degrees).
- Transfer chicken to a cutting board and slice or chop.
- Heat a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. Add butter. When butter melts, add flour, white parts of green onions, and garlic. Saute until no dry spots of flour remain, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Slowly pour in milk while whisking. Bring milk to a simmer, whisking constantly. Once mixture is simmering, simmer for 2 minutes to allow sauce to thicken slightly.
- Stir in Jerk seasoning, drained tomatoes, spinach, and bell peppers and stir until spinach wilts, 1 to 2 minutes more.
- Fold in pasta and green parts of green onions.
- Taste pasta and season with some salt and pepper and / or more Jerk seasoning. If you’d like some tart flavor you can squeeze juice from some of the lime wedges into the pasta.
- If chicken was made ahead, reheat in the microwave.
- Fold chicken into pasta or serve it on top. Serve pasta with lime wedges on the side. Enjoy!
Dank sauce1 Helpful
We loved this! We used Cajun seasoning and doubled it for the chicken portion.0 Helpful
Due to some very strong food preferences, I modified the ingredient list a smidge (no peppers, no spinach), but otherwise followed the recipe as best I could. The chicken was divine, and the pasta was most excellent. The kids loved the richness of the cinnamon and brown sugar in the marinade with the jerk seasoning, and I was pleasantly surprised to pull off a cream sauce. Don't skimp on the jerk seasoning for the sauce! I did, and the pasta was a little bland, especially next to the chicken.0 Helpful
This was good. A little spicier then I thought it would be. Fine for the adults, but harder for the kids. Would dial it back on the Cajun spice next time for that reason. (Added plain Greek yogurt to theirs, and that seemed to make it easier for them to eat.)0 Helpful
Made the veggie & the original & family loved. Used Jamaican Jerk spice & ridged rigatoni. Used orange , red & yellow pepper & crushed diced fire roasted bc had on hand but put through strainer for less liquid. Everyone liked leftover too,0 Helpful
Loved all the veggies in this one. I cut the jerk seasoning in half, which made it perfect for my family.0 Helpful