Pasta Jambalaya replaces the rice with pasta in a more traditional jambalaya recipe. Jambalaya is a quintessential New Orleans dish that has its roots in both French and Spanish settlers. Traditionally, jambalaya is made with some sort of sausage, along with some other meat and/or seafood. It includes the trinity of onion, celery, and green bell pepper, along with spicy seasonings and rice. Pasta Jambalaya replaces the rice with pasta to create an unforgettable meal!
I used Emeril’s Jambalaya Pasta with Penne, Chicken, Shrimp and Andouille on the Food Network site as a starting point. In addition to using pasta in place of rice, I finished the Pasta Jambalaya with heavy cream. All I can say is WOW – what a fantastic result!
In general, the ingredients for Pasta Jambalaya are the same as for a more traditional jambalaya except for the pasta.
- The Meats – For the meat, I used chicken breasts, andouille sausage and fresh shrimp. If you don’t have access to fresh shrimp, you could also use frozen shrimp.
- The Trinity Minus One – Most New Orleans dishes such as this include the trinity – onion, bell pepper and celery. This amazing dish leaves out the celery, but does add a fair amount of garlic!
- The Pasta – I like to use Rotini for this dish. However, Penne or other pastas would equally work.
- The Liquids – The two main liquids in this dish are chicken broth and petit diced tomatoes. Both are important to round out the flavor.
- The Seasonings – Given the nature of this dish, it’s important to use a good Creole/Cajun seasoning. My go to seasoning for a dish such as this is Emeril’s Essence. I also like to add some dried basil, dried thyme, salt and pepper.
- The Dairy – Both freshly grated Parmesan cheese and heavy cream are important to add richness to this amazing dish.
Making the Pasta Jambalaya
I started the process by cooking the Rotini in salted water for 10 minutes. I drained the pasta, but reserved a cup of the pasta liquid.
Once the pasta was cooked, I started the actual Jambalaya preparation. First, I tossed the shrimp with Cajun seasoning and salt. Then, I cooked the shrimp in olive oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven for 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes, I removed the shrimp from the pan.
Next, I added a bit more olive oil to the Dutch oven. I cooked the chicken, which I had tossed in the Cajun seasoning and salt, for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, I removed the chicken from the pan.
Then, I added more olive oil to the Dutch oven, and cooked the sausage, onion, and bell pepper for 3 minutes.
After that, I added the garlic and cooked it for around 30 seconds until it was fragrant. Next, I added the chicken stock, diced tomatoes, thyme, basil, and remaining Essence. I cooked the mixture for 2 minutes.
I added the cream and cooked the mixture for 2 more minutes.
Finally, I added the shrimp, chicken, pasta and some of the reserved pasta water to the sauce. I cooked this for around 3 minutes more. In the final step, I added freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and tossed to combine all ingredients.
I served the Pasta Jambalaya with a green salad, crusty french bread, and a chilled Chardonnay. Yum!
This is an update of a post originally published on March 26, 2012. The recipe, which I’ve made numerous times since 2012, remains basically the same. However, I’ve refined the text, and added all new photographs.
I hope that you enjoy the Pasta Jambalaya as much as we do!
Chula’s Expert Tips
- While I like to use Rotini for this amazing dish, feel free to use whatever pasta you have on hand.
- I’m fortunate to live in an area with abundant fresh shrimp. However, if you’re not so fortunate, you can also use frozen shrimp. Just thaw it in a colander with cold water.
- Be sure not to overcook the shrimp.
- I’ve also used smoked sausage instead of andouille sausage for this recipe. If you decide to use smoked sausage, however, you need to cook it first and drain it well.
Other Classic New Orleans Dishes
If you’re looking for amazing classic New Orleans recipes to make for Mardi Gras or any time for that matter, you should also check out the following:
- Cajun Chicken Fricassee – This recipe is the Cajun version of the French Chicken Fricassee that is made with a traditional roux, and contains the holy trinity highlighted with Cajun seasonings. It’s easy to make and incredible to taste!
- Red Beans and Rice – In New Orleans, red beans are a cultural tradition dating back hundreds of years. Through the years, Red Beans and Rice was the quintessential dish associated with Mondays.
- Chicken Étouffée – When you hear the term Étouffée, you are likely to think of the New Orleans delicacy of shellfish cooked in a roux based stew with vegetables and seasonings. For an incredible variation, you should try Chicken Étouffée.
- Spicy New Orleans Jambalaya -Nothing speaks classic New Orleans cuisine like Spicy New Orleans Jambalaya. Laizzez les bons temps rouler with this delicious one-pot meal that’s perfect for Mardi Gras or any time for that matter.
- Beef Grillades and Smoked Gouda Grits -Beef Grillades (pronounced ɡree-yahds) and Grits is a classic New Orleans dish. The beef is cooked in a flavorful gravy accented with the Trinity of onion, celery, and bell pepper until it is fork tender.
- Shrimp Étouffée – Shrimp Étouffée is Classic New Orleans at its best. It’s perfect for Mardi Gras or anytime with spicy shrimp cooked in a delicious roux based sauce.
- Spicy New Orleans Shrimp Creole – Shrimp Creole is a classic New Orleans dish with both Spanish and French undertones. It consists of shrimp cooked in a spicy mixture of diced tomatoes and the trinity of onion, celery and bell pepper.
- 1 Tablespoon salt plus ¼ teaspoon, divided
- 1 pound dry Rotini or Penne (See Note 1)
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, divided (See Note 2)
- 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 12 ounces andouille sausage, sliced into ¼-inch pieces
- ½ cup yellow onion minced
- ½ cup green bell pepper diced
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Chopped parsley or green onions for garnish if desired
- Add dry pasta to a large pan with salted (1 Tablespoon of salt) boiling water; return to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook the pasta until nearly al dente, 3 minutes less than the package directions. Drain and set aside, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Swirl the pan to evenly coat with the oil. Season the shrimp with 2 teaspoons of the Cajun seasoning and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Place the shrimp in the pan and sear for 1 minute per side. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
- Add another tablespoon of the olive oil to the Dutch oven and season the chicken breast with 2 teaspoons of the Cajun seasoning and ⅛ teaspoon of the salt. Place the chicken breast in the pan and sear for 2 minutes, turning to ensure even browning. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside with the cooked shrimp.
- Place the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the Dutch oven and add the sausage, onions and bell peppers. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is lightly caramelized and the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock to the pan and scrape with a spoon to remove any browned bits that have formed in the bottom of the pan, about 30 seconds. Add the petite diced tomatoes, thyme, basil, and the remaining tablespoon of Cajun seasoning; cook for 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream to the pan and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Return the shrimp and chicken to the pan, as well as the cooked pasta and the reserved ½ cup of pasta cooking water. Continue to cook the sauce and pasta, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp and chicken are cooked through, the pasta is al dente and most of the pasta cooking water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese. Toss to combine. Correct the seasonings with salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with chopped parsley or chopped green onions, and serve while hot. Yield: 8 servings.
- You can use any dried pasta of your choice.
- I used Emeril's Essence for the Cajun Seasoning.