A spicy, creamy Cajun sauce envelops tender pasta and sauteed chicken breast, bell peppers and onion. A quick yet indulgent recipe, perfect for a romantic night in!
- 1 bell pepper, any color
- 1 small or 1/2 large onion
- 2 cups finely chopped plum tomatoes (about 2 – 3 plum tomatoes)
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon neutral oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons (6 teaspoons) Cajun seasoning, divided (see note 1)
- salt, to taste
- 8 ounces pasta (suggested shapes: pappardelle, penne, or fettuccine)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- Set a large pot of water over high heat to boil. While waiting for water to boil, proceed with the following steps. Once water is boiling and you are ready to cook the pasta, add a couple generous pinches of salt and cook according to directions on the box. (See notes 2 – 4 below about how to time the pasta cooking with making the sauce.)
- Prep vegetables and cheese: thinly slice the bell pepper and onion. Finely chop the plum tomatoes. Finely shred the Parmesan cheese. Set aside (keep bell pepper and onion separate from tomatoes).
- Cut chicken breast into 1 inch cubes. Sprinkle lightly with salt and 1 tbsp. of the Cajun seasoning. Toss the chicken to evenly coat in the salt and Cajun seasoning.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium high heat. Add seasoned chicken to the hot pan in an even layer. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring only occasionally to allow the chicken to develop a brown crust on the exterior.
- Add the bell pepper and onion to the pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt and add an additional 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning. Cook the bell pepper, onion and chicken, stirring frequently, until vegetables have softened and chicken is fully cooked, about 2 – 3 minutes. Remove chicken and vegetables into a medium bowl. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and set aside.
- Add remaining 1 tsp. oil to the hot pan. Add finely chopped tomatoes, a sprinkle of salt, and remaining 2 tsp. Cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomatoes break down and some of the moisture begins to evaporate from the tomatoes, about 2 – 3 minutes.
- Add heavy cream and finely shredded Parmesan cheese. Let simmer until sauce is slightly thickened and creamy, about 2 – 3 minutes. Taste the sauce and add additional salt and/or Cajun seasoning if needed.
- When pasta is finished cooking, drain it well and add to sauce, along with chicken, bell pepper and onion mixture. Serve immediately with additional shredded Parmesan cheese.
- Before you start cooking, check to see if your Cajun seasoning has salt in it or not. If it does, be sparing when adding additional salt; you can always add more if needed. The amount of Cajun seasoning listed here results in a medium level of spiciness (in my opinion!). Adjust the amount of seasoning to your own tastes.
- The pasta will taste the freshest if it finishes cooking right when the sauce is done or a little after. Before you start the sauce, check how long your pasta needs to cook and time accordingly.
- If the pasta water is boiling before you are ready to add the pasta, turn the heat down slightly to maintain a simmer, then turn the heat back up a minute or two before you are ready to add the pasta.
- If the sauce is ready before the pasta has finished cooking, just turn the heat on the skillet down to the lowest setting to keep the sauce warm, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is done.
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