Weeknight Shorts: One Pan Cajun Creamy Chicken and Veggie Pasta

My family is incredibly fortunate to be able to mostly take the time off between Christmas and New Year's Day off of work and school. But if fussy cooking happens between those holidays, it can be less of a vacation for anyone on kitchen duty. That's why we favor meals that are easy, quick cooking, and focused on the leftovers generated by the Christmas feast. This one pan pasta dish is a perfect example and my gift for you during this in-between time, no matter what your days hold.

First of all, let's talk tweaks. The vegetables in this recipe were chosen because we had them on hand, they are particularly favored by one or more of our family members, and/or we were looking for a colorful combination of produce. I used leftover rotisserie chicken for this meal, but you could use any other protein source or even skip it entirely. With all the vegetables, peppy seasonings, and both cheese and cream, this meal can hold its own without more. And, of course, you can use whatever sort of broth and pasta - including gluten free - in this dish without a problem. So make it yours.

If we're feeling cozy, we'll spoon this warm pasta into deep bowls and enjoy it in front of a fire with the holiday lights twinkling around us. Of course, sitting at the table and tearing chunks of baguette to sop up the sauce is pretty festive on its own too. Enjoy this meal and the bit of relaxation its easy preparation gives to you!

One Pot Cajun Creamy Chicken and Veggie Pasta

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ½ c. chicken broth
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 lb. box short pasta - I used radiatore
  • 1 T. cajun seasoning
  • 1 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 oz. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 c. chopped kale
  • 2 c. diced cooked chicken - rotisserie chicken works great
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering and hot.

Add the diced bell pepper to the pot and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute being careful not to burn it. Remove the peppers and garlic; set aside.

Add the chicken broth, heavy whipping cream, pasta, and cajun seasoning to the pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente, stirring once about halfway through cooking.

Remove the lid. There should be enough liquid to melt the cheese and still coat all the pasta, about a cup of liquid. Add more chicken broth, cream, or milk, if needed.

Add the cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the peppers, garlic, tomatoes, kale, and diced chicken. Stir until the kale is wilted and everything is warmed through. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Serve while hot.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes