One of the things I love about food is that it so often is associated with good memories. I love when a certain meal or flavor can evoke great memories, just from one bite. I spent some time living in Spain, and I cannot eat an omelette now without thinking about late night dinners around our host family’s table. I can’t eat chili (which must be served over elbow macaroni!) without thinking of dinners at my grandmother’s house, and I especially love stuffed chicken breasts, because it reminds me of the meal we ate at our wedding.
So what does my little trip down memory lane have to do with this One Pot Skinny Cajun Chicken Pasta? Well one of my favorite restaurant meals is the Cajun Chicken Alfredo at the Cheesecake Factory. I haven’t been to this restaurant in years, but we went all.the.time in college and I ordered the same pasta dish nearly every time. We celebrated lots of fun moments there and had many laughs around their tables, so when I made my version of this dinner at home, I couldn’t help but to remember our college dinners there. While the Cheesecake Factory´s version is delicious, it has so many calories and fat in it that there is no way I could justify serving a meal like that to my family. We aren’t perfect eaters in our house, but I try to keep things on the lighter side and only splurge on special occasions. Since I wouldn’t really count a regular weeknight dinner as a special occasion, there was no way I would be pulling out the heavy cream or fried chicken for this dinner.
So while this version is lightened up and not as rich as the original version, it is still just as flavorful and satisfying. It is the perfect meal for chilly fall nights. Other reasons I love this meal? Other than chopping the peppers and onions, there is really no prep involved because I used Tyson’s Grilled and Ready Chicken Strips. I am going to be honest and tell you that this isn’t a product that I have used before, but I really am pleased with how good it is! I actually used this chicken twice this week in our meals, and you would never know that it pre-cooked and frozen!
Let me tell you about the other star here. You know how one pot meals are all the rage on Pinterest right now? Well Barilla has made it even easier for us to achieve one pot greatness! This Barilla Pronto Pasta cooks right in your sauce! No waiting for water to boil and no need to drain the water! Not only does this save time while cooking, but saves time during cleanup because you use so many less pots! We all like the sounds of that…right? Normally with a dish like this, you would need a pan for the chicken and veggies, one for the sauce, and one for the pasta. This completely eliminates the need for that and with all your extra time, you can actually sit down and enjoy your meal instead of rushing so you can get to other nightly activities, like homework, bathtime, and activities. Normally a pasta dish like this would take me anywhere between 30-45 minutes. I made this in 15 minutes, from start to finish!
This meal is so packed with flavor. The peppers and onions make a great base for the sauce, the saltiness and nuttiness from the parmesan add ton of flavor without a ton of fat, and the cajun seasoning helps the dish go from ordinary to extraordinary. Don’t be afraid to use cajun spices in family dinners. It doesn’t make it spicy at all!
This One Pot Skinny Cajun Chicken Pasta has all the elements of a dinner I will make again and again. Easy, check. Delicious, check. Pasta, you betcha. Doesn´t make my arteries want to explode, even better. If you are a fan of the classic alfredo, or just want to try something new on pasta night in your house, I hope you try this soon!
Do you have any favorite one pot meals? I am always looking for recipes, so please share them in the comments below!
One Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 1 12 oz. box Barilla Pasta Pronto
- 11 oz. of Tyson´s Grilled and Ready Chicken Strips half the bag
- 4 oz. light or fat free cream cheese
- 1 cup fat free half and half
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese the good stuff, not the stuff from a container!
- 1 red pepper sliced thin
- 1 orange pepper sliced thin
- 1 medium onion diced thin
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp-1 tsp. cajun seasoning depending on your taste
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- for garnish: fresh basil additional parmesan cheese
In a large pot, add olive oil and heat to high heat. Once hot, add peppers, onions, and chicken. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until veggies start to soften and chicken browns. Stir occasionally.
Add cream cheese and stir to help encourage melting. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and the cajun seasoning, reduce heat to medium.
Pour in the half and half and chicken broth. Add the pasta and stir to make sure that all noodles are covered in liquid.
Let cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
After the 8-10 minutes, pasta should be al dente and the sauce should have thickened and stuck to each noodle. Add the parmesan cheese and stir. Taste for seasoning and add more if desired. If pasta mixture is too thick, add more chicken broth to loosen it up. Mine needed about 2-3 tbsp. more chicken stock to loosen.
Garnish with basil and additional parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
Dish is best served that day, but if leftovers remain, reheat with additional chicken broth so it isn´t too sticky.