Evangeline's Cajun Kitchen- Jambalaya Pasta


Welcome to our second edition of Evangeline's Cajun Kitchen! This is my weekly blog where I discuss my love for food and passion for cooking. This week I am sharing a recipe for Jambalaya Pasta.

Now, before I continue, I know that a tomato based jambalaya is technically Creole, not Cajun. I'm cooking what I know; and as a native, I ate a mix of Creole, Cajun and general Southern food most of the time.  That will definitely be reflected in the types of dishes I share with ya'll every week.

As I said last week, just like most households, I have to accommodate different dietary needs. My husband tries to follow a low-carb, or KETO, diet while I am trying to embrace the carbs for some weight gain. That is why I chose to do a pasta dish. By making a pasta dish, I can keep the carbs while I use zucchini noodles for him.

 

What You'll Need

 

Above is a picture of the ingredients I used to make this dish. Some of you may notice the lack of green bell pepper and celery. The trinity- bell pepper, onion and celery, is a staple in almost any Cajun dish. Having said that, I didn't have celery or green bell pepper on hand, so I had to improvise. Below is a list of the ingredients that would normally go into this recipe.

  • 2 cups chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup of shrimp
  • 1 package of Smoked Sausage
  • 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 stalks diced celery
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or 1 bouillon cube/tsp bouillon powder + 1 cup water)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (I used 2 teaspoons of minced garlic)
  • 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning (see recipe below for my homemade Cajun seasoning)
  • 1 Tablespoon oregano
  • Pasta- any type, and amount will vary

Let's Get Cooking!

In a large pot, heat up 1 Tablespoon of olive oil or butter on medium heat. After a minute or two of heating (time will vary depending on type of pot), add in chopped onions and sprinkle with salt to "sweat" the onions, releasing their juices. I chose to chop up my bell peppers and celery while the onions were sweating, but you can do that ahead of time if you don't want to feel rushed. Once the onions have started to turn a little opaque, add in your chopped peppers and celery.

Don't forget that I didn't have green bell pepper or celery, so my pot looks different than if I had used those ingredients.

Cook your onions, peppers and celery together on medium heat until the peppers and celery start to soften. It should take 2-3 minutes. Once they have softened a little, add in your chicken, half of your Cajun seasoning and your garlic. Allow the chicken to cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.

What's next?

While the chicken is cooking, I started to cut up my sausage. Again, if you don't want to feel rushed, you can prep all the ingredients ahead of time. I cut my sausage in half, length-wise, and then made 1/2 inch slices horizontally to create little semicircles. After the four minutes of cooking time for the chicken, add in the sausage, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, oregano and the rest of the Cajun seasoning. Lower the heat to mid-low (I had my knob on 4) and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Almost done...

Once the pot has simmered for 10 minutes, add in your shrimp. Stir the shrimp into the pot, mixing everything together. Once the shrimp have turned pink, turn off the heat.

Time to Eat!

This was a winner for us. Scott ended up going back for seconds without even adding more zucchini noodles. I put some hot sauce in mine, but I put hot sauce on most everything. If you can handle the heat, I would suggest adding a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne when you add the sausage.

Thoughts, Tips and Tricks

Because I don't meal plan, I often have to improvise. I shop by picking out ingredients that I like and then I make dishes from what I have on hand. This might seem crazy to some, but it's just how I like it. This can be a blessing and a curse. It is great for me because I get to be creative. But sometimes, creative just requires too much brain power and I just want something simple and easy.

To make this recipe even easier, you could use some frozen "seasoning mix." That is your trinity right there. Begin by cooking that instead of the onions. You can cancel out the whole onion and celery if you're going down this route. If I hadn't just run out, I would have used the frozen seasoning mix. It's a great staple to keep stocked in the freezer.

Also, I made this over pasta, but you could serve it over anything. I considered cauliflower rice, but also plain rice, quinoa or farro would work great. Or just eat it like a stew! If you are going to eat it over rice, I would suggest cutting the chicken broth in half.


Cajun seasoning recipe

I mentioned last week that I do not like to use store-bought Cajun seasoning because it makes it difficult to manage the salt content of the dish. Besides the sprinkle of salt when sweating the onions and the amount in the Cajun seasoning, there is no additional salt added to the dish. The bouillon contains a lot of salt, and so does sausage; therefore, adding more seasoning that contains a lot of salt can really ruin a dish. It is much easier to just add a little salt to taste than add too much and have to try and save the dish. Below is the recipe for the amount of Cajun seasoning I used for the jambalaya, but it can be altered for smaller or larger batch recipes. If using a different amount, just be wary of the proportions.

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper