Ooh, Cajun chicken pasta.
For years I've been trying to get it just right. Experimenting with spice mixtures, picking a side in the tomatoes vs. no tomatoes debate, figuring out the best way to get the most luxurious, creamiest sauce, and finally, I did it:
A Cajun chicken pasta that is perfectly spicy, creamy, and chalked full of charred peppers, onions, blackened chicken, and spinach (you know, health).
Let's start with the Cajun seasoning. You can definitely use a store bought Cajun seasoning if you're in a hurry or just don't want to make your own, but you don't get quite the same result: smoky, spicy, herby perfection. You will use all the seasoning in the recipe, so if you plan on making a lot of this pasta (yes, please!) it's a good idea to triple or quadruple the seasoning to have on hand.
Blacken your chicken with that seasoning. And char your veggies. Add some garlic, more seasoning, and heavy cream.
Add cooked bowties, reserved pasta water, spinach, and parmesan. Stir it all together for a couple of minutes and serve with more parmesan.
That's all there is to it: The easiest, creamiest Cajun chicken pasta.
Cajun Chicken Pasta
An easy pasta dish that's creamy, comforting, fresh, and good year-round
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- Cajun seasoning, recipe above
- 12 ounces bowtie noodles
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2 breasts), sliced
- 3 bell peppers, sliced into 1/4" strips
- 1 red onion, sliced into 1/4" strips
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cups reserved pasta water
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
- Mix all ingredients. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add noodles and cook just shy of al dente, about 2 minutes short of package directions. Be sure to reserve 2/3 cups of the water before draining.
- Heat butter and olive together in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Once melted and bubbling, add the chicken and 1 tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning. Stir to coat and cook until chicken is browned all over, about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the sliced peppers and onion to the skillet, adding more olive oil if necessary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until charred but still crisp, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the garlic and remaining Cajun seasoning. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 2 minutes.
- Slowly pour the cream into the skillet, stirring to incorporate. Add the noodles, chicken, reserved pasta water, parmesan cheese, and spinach. Continue cooking 2-3 minutes, until noodles are cooked all the way through and spinach is wilted. Serve immediately topped with shredded parmesan and fresh basil.