Okay, who grew up eating at Chili’s Grill and Bar? Well, let’s just say I grew up eating there a *little too much*. I think i’ve tried just about everything on the menu and absolutely loved it all my teen years. Those teen years were also the days that I could pretty much eat any amount of calories and carbs without any repercussions. If I ate the things I did then, I’d probably be lying in bed with the worst stomach ache and gain 10 pounds in one sitting.
One of my most favorite carb-loading orders was Chili’s Cajun Chicken Pasta. It was the creamiest, cheesiest pasta dish topped with cajun crusted chicken and a giant slice of Texas-style garlic toast. Woah. So dang good.
Here, I’ve lightened up that recipe in this oh-so easy one pot pasta dish. No loads of butter and heavy cream here. Yes, there is a little dairy (you can use a non-dairy milk if you are dairy intolerant), but all in all, we are using just real, clean ingredients. You won’t even believe how delicious this pasta is and you are going to want to keep eating more and more!! It’s got big, bold cajun spices and a lovely creamy sauce.
You’ll be so amazed by how easily this dish comes together to make a healthy Cajun Chicken Pasta dish that you can enjoy, guilt-free, any night of the week!
One-Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1.5 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne (1/2 tsp is spicy. If you want mild, go for 1/4 tsp. If you are serving kids omit the cayenne).
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup white onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 ounces penne pasta (I use Jovial Brown Rice Pasta)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups milk almond milk is okay for dairy-free option
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
- 1 roma tomato, seeds scooped out and diced fine
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced, green parts only
- 2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
- In a small bowl, combine the paprika, cayenne, thyme, rosemary, oregano and 1 tsp kosher salt. Stir until well combined and set aside.
- Place chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover with parchment or saran wrap. Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a skillet, pound chicken until it is a uniform 1/4 inch thickness.
- Season both of the chicken breasts all over with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Now, take about 1 teaspoon of the prepared spice mixture and evenly sprinkle on both sides of the chicken breasts (reserving the remaining mixture for later).
- Heat oil in a large skillet with sides (I use a 3 qt. Saucier) over medium-high heat. When hot, but not smoking, sear the chicken until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes a side. Transfer cooked chicken to a cutting board and let rest while you make the pasta.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and garlic to the same skillet and saute, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes. (If your skillet is dry, add an extra tsp of oil.)
- Add the pasta, broth and milk. Season with salt and the remaining seasoning blend. Bring the contents in the pot to a gentle simmering (you don't want it to be boiling). Cook, simmering and stirring often until pasta is al dente and liquid is absorbed and creamy, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Finish with lemon juice and taste, adjust salt and pepper, as desired. Serve in a bowl and top with sliced chicken, roma tomatoes, green onion and shredded parmesan (optional). Enjoy!