Cajun Vegetable Pasta

I should give the caveat that this not any sort of authentic “cajun” pasta – it’s really a riff on popular menu items at restaurants like Cheesecake Factory and it’s basically a creamy pasta with cajun seasoning to liven things up. Generally, it’s made with chicken, but this version uses roasted vegetables instead. Because the vegetables shrink so much, you could probably double the amount if you wanted to – I probably will the next time I make this!

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced into half moons
  • olive oil
  • cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chachere’s)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 oz short pasta, uncooked
  • 2.5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 2 oz cream cheese, cubed
  • heavy cream
  • vinegar-based hot sauce (I use Tabasco)
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon (optional)
  • parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Parsley (optional)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Toss the red pepper, green pepper, and red onion on a sheet pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of cajun seasoning. Roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring and flipping the vegetables halfway through the roasting time.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the garlic is golden and fragrant. Add the pasta, broth, tomatoes with their liquid, and another generous pinch of cajun seasoning to the pot and bring to a simmer. Make sure the pasta is completely submerged by the liquid. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, uncover the pot and stir in the cream cheese until melted. Add the roasted vegetables to the pot and stir to incorporate. If there is an excess of liquid remaining in the pot, turn the heat up to medium high to get a vigorous simmer and reduce the liquid. When you get the consistency that you want (creamy and fairly thick), stir in a splash of heavy cream and a few dashes of hot sauce. Taste for seasoning and, if needed, add more hot sauce, cajun seasoning, or salt to taste. Don’t be shy with the salt – since the pasta cooked in the sauce, we need to make sure there is enough sodium to bring the flavors forward.

Squeeze the lemon juice into the pot and top individual servings with parmesan cheese and parsley! Enjoy!

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