Holy Smokes Batman! I found another lonely chicken breast in the back of my freezer! Yesss!
I stock up on chicken breast when they go on sale for $1.99/lb. then wrap them individually in fold-top sandwich bags, pack them into a heavy duty freezer bag, and then freeze them for later use. That way I can take one or two out to thaw as needed without thawing the entire pack. And oh the things you can do with just one single chicken breast!
To stretch this one chicken breast (about 3/4 lb.) out over six servings I sliced it super thin then punched up the flavor with some Cajun blackened seasoning. I bulked it out with inexpensive pasta and a few vegetables. A creamy, fire-roasted tomato sauce helps dampen the flames of the Cajun seasoning and make the whole dish rich and comforting.
If you’re not into spicy foods, you can simply leave the cayenne pepper out of the blackened seasoning and you’ll still have a very full flavored, but mild dish. Can’t get chicken at a good price or just don’t want to include meat? Heck, just leave it out. I think the vegetables and pasta are more than enough to carry this meal… or try using some sliced mushrooms in place of the chicken. Don’t like cream cheese? No problem, just use 1/4 cup or so of half and half instead.
If you don’t have all of the herbs and spices to make the blackened seasoning, you can usually find either Cajun Seasoning or Blackened Seasoning in the spice aisle at the grocery store. Simply use 2 Tbsp of the spice blend in place of the herbs and spices I have listed below. Be sure to check if the seasoning blend has salt, though, because if it doesn’t, you’ll want to add some (I used about 3/4 tsp).
For being a “creamy” pasta dish, this recipe is actually pretty healthy (just one tablespoon of butter and one ounce of cream cheese for the whole pan). Of course, if you’re one of those people that has “YOLO” tattooed across their forehead, you could double both the butter and cream cheese and I’m sure you wouldn’t be sorry. ;)
Cajun Chicken Pasta
Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 2 tsp paprika smoked or sweet ($0.20)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($0.03)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.02)
- 1 tsp dried oregano ($0.10)
- 1 tsp dried thyme ($0.10)
- 3/4 tsp salt ($0.05)
- freshly cracked pepper (20-25 cranks of a pepper mill) ($0.05)
For the Pasta
- 1 large chicken breast (3/4 lb) ($1.50)
- 1 Tbsp butter ($0.10)
- 1 green bell pepper ($0.85)
- 1 red bell pepper ($1.00)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.35)
- 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes ($1.39)
- 1 oz cream cheese ($0.25)
- 12 oz fettuccine ($0.88)
- 3 whole green onions ($0.28)
- Combine the herbs and spices for the blackened seasoning in a bowl. Slice the chicken breast into very thin, two inch long strips. Place the chicken strips in a second bowl, pour half of the blackened seasoning over top and toss the chicken to coat in the spices.
- Prepare a large pot of water for the pasta. Bring it to a boil over high heat and then add the pasta. Cook the pasta until tender and then drain in a colander.
- Meanwhile, thinly slice the bell peppers and onion. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot and the butter is melted, add the chicken and sauté until cooked through. Remove the cooked chicken from the skillet, add the sliced vegetables, and sauté until they are tender and slightly wilted. Remove the vegetables from the skillet.
- Turn the heat under the skillet down to medium low. Add the can of fire roasted tomatoes and the second half of the blackened seasoning. Cut the cream cheese into small pieces and add it to the skillet. Whisk the mixture until the cream cheese has melted into the tomatoes and created a creamy sauce.
- Add the cooked chicken and vegetables back to the skillet with the sauce and stir to combine. If your skillet is extra large, add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to combine with the chicken, vegetables, and sauce. If your skillet is smaller, you can add the drained pasta back to the large pot it was cooked in (with the heat turned off), then add the chicken, vegetables, and sauce to the pot and stir to combine.
- Slice the green onions and sprinkle over top before serving.
Step by Step Photos
First mix up your blackened seasoning in a bowl. You’ll have twice as much as shown here, I ended up doubling it later in the recipe. I used smoked paprika, but you can use regular or sweet paprika instead.
The trick to getting one chicken breast to stretch out over six servings is to slice it super thin. I sliced it into thin strips across the breast, but in the areas where the chicken breast was thick, I also sliced the thickness in half… then some of them were long, so I cut those in half *lengthwise* until they were about 2 inches long. It’s a lot of slicing, but it makes a big difference.
Use about half of the blackened seasoning mix to coat the chicken.
I just used one green bell pepper, one red bell pepper, and one onion. Red bells were on sale again – woo!
Slice ’em up really thin, too.
Oh yeah, while you’re doing all of this slicing, get the pasta going so that it will be finished cooking when you’re ready to add it to the rest of the dish. And here’s a secret trick I discovered – break the pasta in half before cooking it. You’ll still get the long look of fettuccine, but it will be MUCH easier to stir it together with the other ingredients (the chunks of chicken and vegetables). Long pasta is notoriously hard to combine with chunky ingredients.
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot and the butter is melted, add the chicken and sauté until it’s cooked through. That’s another advantage of the thin strips – they cook very quickly!!
When the chicken is finished, remove it from the skillet (I put it in a large bowl), then add the veggies. Sauté the veggies until they’re kind of soft, then remove them from the skillet too (you don’t want over cooked, limp, dull veggies). While the veggies are cooking, the moisture will lift up the bits of seasoning in the skillet left over from the chicken – nice!
I used these fire roasted diced tomatoes for an added bit of smokiness. If you can’t find fire roasted tomatoes, you can use plain diced tomatoes.
Turn the heat under the skillet down to medium-low, then add the diced tomatoes, cream cheese, and the second half of the blacked seasoning to the skillet. The cream cheese will melt in easier if you break it up into chunks. You can use the guidelines printed on the foil wrapper of the cream cheese block as a measuring guide for one ounce.
Whisk that all together until the cream cheese is melted in and the texture is creamy. It will look a bit chunky at first, but the cream cheese will eventually melt in. (I started out using a whisk, then switched to a spoon at the end)
Now add the cooked chicken and vegetables back into the sauce and stir to coat.
If your skillet is big enough, you can just add the pasta to the skillet and stir until everything is mixed together. If it’s not, just add everything back into the large pot that the pasta cooked in. The tall sides will help you stir it all together without everything falling out. Slice the green onions and sprinkle them over top before serving!
This makes a LOT of pasta… but since when is that a problem?