Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cajun Pastalaya - Pasta Jambalaya

The classic flavors of a chicken and sausage jambalaya but in a quick and easy skillet pasta dinner.
The classic flavors of a chicken and sausage jambalaya but in a quick and easy skillet pasta dinner.

Cajun Pastalaya

Pastalaya is another one of those dishes that gets some folks kinda cranked up.

The purists have a fit over anybody calling a dish that is not rice based, anything remotely related to jambalaya. I've even had a gal go into a full out rant about calling this dish "Cajun."

For the record, it's referred to that way, not because of the use of Cajun seasoning as she ranted about, but because one, it's jambalaya, but primarily due to its one pot simplicity, a common element of Cajun cooking.

Most importantly, I should note... I didn't "invent" the dish, somebody else did long ago, and everybody makes it differently. It seems to have come into the popular mainstream now and this is simply my version of it.

Pastalaya is taking the basic combination of the flavors of a typical jambalaya, but in a pasta dish instead of a rice dish. I say just relax and go ahead and enjoy it!

I like to use the shell pasta - not the tiny shells, but the average, medium sized shells, but most any medium sized short-cut pasta works too. A lot of folks like using bowties. If you prefer this a little more mild than spicy, simply sub in a good smoked sausage for the andouille.

Pretty snappy to throw together too.

When I decided to make this, I didn't have a chicken breast thawed, or any pre-cooked chicken in the freezer, but that's the beauty of this dish. While it's excellent with the chicken, it's good with just about any protein, including pork, shrimp and even crawfish.

The great thing about smoked sausage is it can be defrosted in a snap in the microwave. I do recommend adding the chicken. Simply heat your choice of fat in a large, covered pot or skillet and add the chicken, and brown well on both sides. Remove and set aside.

Slice the smoked sausage in half lengthwise, then chop, adding to the skillet and cooking until browned. Stir in the onion and green pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Stir in the tomatoes and water.

Meanwhile, cut the chicken breast into cubes and return to the pot, adding in the dry pasta, thyme, basil, parsley and Cajun seasoning. Return to boil; reduce to medium low, cover and cook for about 25 minutes or until pasta is tender and most of liquid has been absorbed.

Stir in the butter and green onion. Taste, add salt and pepper, adjust seasonings as needed and serve with hot French bread to soak up the juices.

A delicious, easy meal, suitable for any weeknight! Check out more of my pasta dishes on Pinterest!

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Posted by on May 12, 2011

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