Creamy Cajun Pasta with Chicken
and bell peppers / spinach
This spicy and creamy pasta is loaded with colorful vegetables. It got great reviews when we last featured it in 2021.
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, ground - 1/2 tsp
- Soy sauce, low-sodium - 1 Tbsp
- Vinegar, red or white wine - 1 Tbsp
- Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
- Chicken breasts, 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 - 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 - 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.
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.
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 (portion for pasta), 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.
Fold chicken into pasta or serve it on top. Serve pasta with lime wedges on the side. Enjoy!