Happy Mardi Gras!!
It was an icy cold and grey morning here in New Orleans, so instead of going out and enjoying the parades, I decided to take it easy, stay warm, and cook up a big pot of Pastalaya. What is pastalaya? It’s like jambalaya, but made with pasta instead of rice! You’ll find this easy and filling dish at large gatherings, celebrations, and even along the parade route during Mardi Gras. Pastalaya is one of those super easy crowd pleasers that doesn’t break the bank. Sounds like Budget Bytes material, ammiright?
Just as with jambalaya, every chef has their own version of pastalaya. Mine is super simple with andouille smoked sausage, trinity, a good dose of seasoning, and a splash of cream at the end to smooth things out. A lot of people do sausage and chicken, so if you have some leftover rotisserie chicken or some boneless skinless chicken thighs, you can throw them in there as well.
Trinity (onion, bell pepper, and celery) is the base for most Cajun and Creole dishes, but my grocery store was out of green peppers today (I guess everyone was cooking jambalaya!), so I had to sub a pre-chopped and frozen “seasoning mix” (aka trinity) instead. It’s a nice short cut if you don’t feel like chopping everything up, but fresh always tastes better. If you want to go the fresh route, use one yellow onion, one green bell pepper, and about two stalks of celery instead of the bagged seasoning mix I used.
You ready to get this Mardi Gras party started?
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil $0.02
- ½ lb. smoked sausage (preferably Andouille) $3.67
- 2 cloves garlic $0.16
- 1 10oz. bag frozen "seasoning mix"* $1.39
- 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes $0.79
- ½ Tbsp Creole seasoning** 0.15
- ½ tsp oregano $0.05
- ½ tsp smoked paprika $0.05
- ¼ tsp thyme $0.02
- Freshly cracked pepper $0.05
- 2 cups chicken broth $0.24
- 1 cup water $0.00
- 1 lb. penne pasta $1.49
- 2 Tbsp half & half or cream $0.19
- ½ bunch fresh parsley $0.45
- ½ bunch green onions $0.38
- Slice the smoked sausage into thin rounds, then cut any larger pieces in half. Add the sausage and vegetable oil to a large pot and cook over medium heat until the sausage is well browned (about 5 minutes).
- Mince two cloves of garlic and add them to the pot. Sauté for one to two minutes, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Add the bag of frozen seasoning mix and sauté until heated through (3-5 minutes). Finally, add the can of diced tomatoes (with juices), Creole seasoning, oregano, smoked paprika, thyme, freshly cracked pepper (about 20 cranks of a pepper mill), chicken broth, 1 cup of water, and pasta to the pot. Stir until everything is evenly combined.
- Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Let the pot come to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, remove the lid briefly to stir, then replace the lid, turn the heat down to low, and let the pot simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Stir the pot once every few minutes as it simmers to prevent the pasta from sticking. Replace the lid as quickly as possible after stirring to avoid heat loss.
- While the pasta is simmering, pull the parsley leaves from the stems and give them a good chop, and slice the green onions. Once the pasta is tender, most of the liquid in the pot should be absorbed. If it's still a bit soupy, let the pot simmer for one to two minutes without the lid to allow some moisture to evaporate.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the half & half or cream. Stir in most of the chopped parsley and green onions, reserving some to sprinkle over top. Serve hot with a pinch of fresh parsley and green onions on top of each bowl.
**Creole seasoning can be found in most major grocery stores, but you can make your own using this blend of spices. Store bought Creole seasoning blends usually contain a lot of salt, so you may need to add extra salt to the final product to compensate.
Step by Step Photos
Start with 1/2 lb. of smoked sausage, Andouille if you can get it. This Andouille came in a 12oz. package, so I just cut up 8 oz. of it and saved the remaining little piece in my freezer. You never know when a small piece of Andouille will come in handy (impromptu breakfast hash?).
Slice the Andouille into medallions, and then cut any large medallions in half. I prefer smaller pieces in my pastalaya so that there will be more pieces throughout and more of a chance to get sausage in every bite.
Cook the sausage in a large pot over medium with about 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil until it is well browned. Don’t worry if some brown bits stick to the bottom of the pot. They’ll dissolve off later and give a lot of flavor to your pastalaya.
I couldn’t make my own trinity for my pastalaya because there were no green bell peppers at the grocery store, so I bought this 10oz. bag of frozen “seasoning blend” instead. It’s quick, easy, and gets the job done, but I really would have preferred fresh. If you want to use fresh vegetables, chop up one yellow onion, one green bell pepper, and two stalks of celery to use in place of this bag of frozen vegetables.
Just before adding the trinity, mince two cloves of garlic and add them to the pot. Let them sauteé for a brief 1-2 minutes, then add the trinity. Sauté the trinity just until softened (the frozen trinity softens immediately upon thawing, fresh will take 5-7 minutes).
Add one 15oz. can of diced tomatoes.
And now it’s time for the good stuff. The pastalaya starts with a good dose of Creole seasoning (1/2 Tbsp.). Store bought Creole seasoning usually has a good amount of salt, so I decided to supplement with a few individual herbs to increase the flavor of the pastalaya without making it overly salty. I added 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp thyme, and a healthy dose of freshly cracked pepper (about 20 cranks of the pepper mill).
Add all of the spices above, along with 2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup water, and a whole pound of penne pasta. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and let it come to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, lift the lid briefly to stir, replace the lid, turn the heat down to low, and let simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Stir every few minutes to keep the pasta from sticking, but replace the lid quickly to prevent heat loss. It needs to simmer the whole time for the pasta to cook.
Once the pasta has cooked, most of the liquid should be absorbed. If it’s still a touch soupy, let it simmer for a minute or two without the lid. Finally, turn the heat off and stir in 2 tablespoons of half & half or cream.
While the pasta is simmering, pull the leaves off half a bunch of parsley and give them a good chop. Slice half a bunch of green onions as well.
Stir most of the parsley and green onions into the pasta, saving a little to sprinkle over top.
And there you have it. Pastalaya, a delicious Louisiana style one pot pasta! NOM.
Happy Mardi Gras!