This creamy pastalaya recipe is a hearty, crowd-pleaser treat that'll make everyone ask for seconds. It's just like jambalaya but made with pasta instead of rice for a fuss-free, budget-friendly recipe that's perfect for a busy weeknight.
Pastalaya sounds like a fun dish, and that's exactly what it is — a play on a traditional Cajun jambalaya and a creamy pasta dish. The result is spectacularly delicious and the effort to make it is minimal.
Jambalaya typically consists of a mix of meat, seafood and veggies, all cooked together with rice and plenty of Cajun seasoning.
This creamy pastalaya recipe follows the same concept but uses pasta instead of rice to create an easy and filling dinner the entire family will adore.
The starch from the pasta that cooks right in the pot with the rest of the ingredients is what makes pastalaya naturally creamy and irresistible.
I used a mix of veggies, chicken thighs, kielbasa sausage and prawns to make this flavour-packed pastalaya, but you can easily adapt it as you wish.
Why you'll love this pastalaya recipe
- It's super easy to make in one pot - just what I want to hear on a busy weeknight!
- It's absolutely packed with flavour.
- It's budget-friendly and very easy to make your own.
What goes into cajun pastalaya
Olive oil - Frying the smoked sausage in a bit of extra virgin olive oil sets up an excellent flavour base for pastalaya. You can also add a knob of butter for an extra creamy sauce.
Kielbasa sausage - I used Polish kielbasa sausage in this recipe, but you can also make it with andouille sausage, which is quite popular for jambalaya. Any other type of smoked sausage works here, including chorizo.
Chicken -Boneless chicken thighs are perfect for pastalaya because the meat has more flavour than chicken breast. You can also use diced pork here.
Onion and bell pepper - I like to dice these on the smaller side so they cook quickly and evenly. You can also add some finely chopped garlic.
Cajun paste - I used two tablespoons of shop-bought Cajun paste for this pastalaya recipe. You can use Cajun ore creole seasoning instead if you like.
Diced tomatoes - Canned diced or crushed tomatoes are perfect for this sauce. If you want to use fresh tomatoes, make sure they are very ripe.
Prawns - Frozen prawns (shrimp) are great for this recipe because they're budget-friendly and cook in just a couple of minutes.
Single cream (half and half) - If you want the sauce to be extra creamy, use double (heavy) cream instead.
How to make pastalaya
Add the chicken and continue to cook on medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes until no longer pink.
Stir in the onion and bell pepper and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies soften.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the pasta is almost cooked. Add a bit more stock or water if needed.
Stir in the prawns and cover the pot for another 2-3 minutes. If using raw prawns, you can add them a couple of minutes earlier.
When the prawns are cooked, stir in the cream and the fresh parsley. Season to taste and serve immediately.
Leftovers and storage
- Pastalaya leftovers will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
- You can reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop - you may need to add a splash of cream or stock if it looks too dry.
- I don't recommend freezing pastalaya because the pasta will be quite mushy when thawed.
Recipe notes and tips
- To make pastalaya fiery, add up to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or stir in 1 tablespoon of hot sauce at the end.
- For an extra cheesy past, stir some grated cheddar or mozzarella at the end.
- You can add chopped celery and carrot with the onion to increase the veggie content.
- Other herbs that you can add besides oregano include dried or fresh thyme or marjoram.
- Sprinkle some freshly chopped green onion on individual bowls right before serving.
If you liked this creamy pastalaya recipe, you might also like some of my other creamy pasta recipes:
- Creamy Tomato Spinach Pasta
- Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- Chicken Feta Pasta
- Creamy Chicken Piccata Pasta
- Creamy Chicken and Chorizo Pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 250 g (½ lb) kielbasa sausage, sliced
- 300 g (¾ lb) boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 2 tablespoons Cajun paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 x 400 g (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
- 250 g (8.8 oz) uncooked pasta
- 500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock (plus a bit extra)
- 200 g (7 oz) frozen prawns
- 200 ml (1 cup) single cream (half and half)
- A handful of freshly chopped parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan or a Dutch oven and fry the kielbasa sausage for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until browned.
- Add the chicken and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes until no longer pink.
- Stir in the onion and bell pepper and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies soften.
- Next, stir in the Cajun paste and dried oregano, then add the chopped tomatoes, pasta and chicken stock and stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the pasta is almost cooked. Add a bit more stock if needed.
- Stir in the prawns and cover the pot for another 2-3 minutes. If using raw prawns, you can add them a couple of minutes earlier.
- When the prawns are cooked, stir in the cream and the fresh parsley. Season to taste and serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 577Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 169mgSodium: 911mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 38g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.