Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cajun chicken pasta with mushrooms

I was craving some pasta and somehow came across a cajun chicken pasta recipe. It sounded delicious but seemes too heavy (2 cups of heavy cream...yikes!) A quick internet search found several recipes, most of them with heavy cream. So I set about to make my own cajun chicken pasta, without all the fat and calories but still with plenty of flavor. Before I go on, here's a disclaimer. I realize this is not "authentic" cajun chicken pasta (if pasta can be cajun at all!) but rather my rendition of it.

1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups mushrooms
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 chicken breasts
cajun seasoning
1 pound whole wheat rigatoni pasta
1 large can crushed tomatoes (28-32 oz.)
1 habanero pepper ground to a paste with a little vinegar
1 cup milk - I used 2% but anything works
1 cup chicken stock
fresh basil or oregano (if you have it)
freshly grated parmesan cheese - as much as your heart desires
olive oil

Dry chicken breasts thoroughly. Coat with cajun seasoning and brown in about 1-2 tbsp oil until golden on both sides. Add 1/4 cup water, pop the lid and cook about 5-7 minutes until done. Set aside to cool.

While the chicken is browning, heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a deep pan (enough to hold all the cooked pasta) and saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add crushed red pepper flakes if using, and sliced mushrooms. Once the mushrooms start releasing liquids, add tomatoes, chicken stock, habanero pepper paste and about 2 tbsp cajun seasoning. Simmer on stovetop until the mixture thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed at this point. Reduce heat to low and add milk.

While your sauce is cooking, cook the pasta in plenty of salted hot water until al dente (almost cooked with a little bite to it). Also, slice the chicken breasts thinly (or however you prefer). Add to the sauce so it can absorb all the flavors.

Once pasta has cooked, drain and immediately toss with sauce. Add parmesan cheese and chopped basil/oregano. If you don't have basil/oregano, just add cilantro (who said it was authentic??!).

Enjoy your lower fat cajun chicken pasta!

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