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 herbs and spices, 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?
Post updated 5-9-17
See This Recipe in Action:
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil ($0.04)
- 1/2 lb smoked sausage (preferably Andouille) ($2.50)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 10 oz bag frozen "seasoning mix"* ($1.29)
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes ($0.59)
- 1/2 Tbsp Creole seasoning** ($0.15)
- 1/2 tsp oregano ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp thyme ($0.02)
- Freshly cracked pepper ($0.03)
- 2 cups chicken broth ($0.26)
- 1 cup water ($0.00)
- 1 lb penne pasta ($1.39)
- 2 Tbsp half and half or cream ($0.11)
- 1/2 bunch fresh parsley ($0.45)
- 1/2 bunch green onions ($0.42)
- 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 minute, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Add the bag of frozen seasoning mix and sauté until heated through (3-5 minutes). Add the can of diced tomatoes (with juices), Creole seasoning, oregano, smoked paprika, thyme, freshly cracked pepper (about 20 cranks of a pepper mill), and pasta to the pot. Finally, add the chicken broth and 1 cup of water, and 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, stir briefly, replace the lid, turn the heat down to low, and let the pot simmer for 10-12 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 to maintain a simmer. If the mixture still seems soupy at around 8 minutes, let the pot simmer without a lid for the last few minutes. A little bit of thick sauce at the bottom of the pot is perfect.
- While the pasta is simmering, chop the parsley and slice the green onions.
- 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 of each bowl. Serve hot.
Step by Step Photos
Start with 1/2 lb. of smoked sausage, Andouille if you can get it. Cut the sausage into rounds, then cut each round in half to make a half moon. Add the sausage and a tablespoon of your favorite cooking oil to a large pot. Sauté the sausage over medium heat until it is nice and brown.
Normally jambalaya has a mix of diced onion, bell pepper, and celery, which is called trinity. While fresh always tastes better, you can usually find a frozen mix of these same vegetables. Since the grocery store was out of fresh bell pepper that day, I went with the frozen mix (10oz. bag). To make it fresh, use one onion, one bell pepper, and about 2-3 ribs of celery.
Just before adding the trinity, mince two cloves of garlic and add them to the pot. Let them sauté for one minute, 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, 1 lb. penne pasta, 1/2 Tbsp creole seasoning, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp thyme, and some freshly cracked pepper.
Finally, add 2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup water, and and stir until everything is well combined. 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 10-12 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.
If you notice that it’s still quite soupy at around the 8 minute mark, you can let it simmer the last couple of minutes without the lid. A little thick saucy liquid at the bottom of the pot is okay.
Stir in 2 Tbsp half-and-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 of each bowl.
And there you have it. Pastalaya, a delicious Louisiana style one pot pasta! NOM.
Happy Mardi Gras!