Creamy Cajun Pasta with Peppers and Smoked Sausage

I know Mardi Gras is barely a blip on everyone else’s radar, but it’s kind of consumed our lives here in Louisiana. If you’re wanting to celebrate, this Creamy Cajun Pasta with Peppers and Smoked Sausage is one of my favorite Louisiana recipes–it has become a dinnertime staple at our house! You’ll never guess that it’s lightened up–the sauce is creamy and luxurious and every bite is full of flavor.

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Creamy Cajun Pasta with Peppers and Smoked Sausage

  • Author: kate jones

Description

This lightened up version of creamy cajun pasta is full of Louisiana flavor, but packed with veggies, protein, and light on fat!


Scale

Ingredients

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound smoked pork sausage, halved and cut into 1/4” slices
1 small red onion, halved and sliced
34 cloves garlic, minced
2 colored bell peppers (I used red and yellow), halved and sliced
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups water (high elevations increase to 1 3/4)
8 ounces pasta (I used trottole)
2 cups 1% milk
3 ounces low-fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning (like Tony Chachere’s)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup (4 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Instructions

Preheat 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook 2-3 minutes or until it starts to release oil and is browning. Add the onions and cook until fragrant. Add the garlic and sliced bell peppers and cook until the peppers are tender-crisp. Remove from heat and transfer the sausage and peppers to a large plate. Set aside.

Return the pan to heat and add the tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then quickly add the pasta, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook until the pasta is al dente and the liquid is absorbed.

While the pasta is cooking, place the milk, cream cheese, Cajun seasoning, smoked paprika, and flour in the jar of a blender and blend until smooth. Heat the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. When melted, add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes or until tender and fragrant. Add the mixture from the blender and cook until smooth and thickened to where if the back of a spoon is dipped into the sauce, you can trace your finger down the back of the spoon and that spot will stay clean.

Remove the sauce from heat and add the Parmesan cheese. Stir until melted and smooth.

Add the peppers and sausage to the pasta/tomato mixture and stir to combine. Add the garlic sauce and combine. Season to taste with Cajun seasoning and serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

 


Notes

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 366
Fat: 18
Carbs: 32
Protein: 17
Fiber: 2.6

more mardi gras options

If you’re looking for more Mardi Gras recipes, be sure and check out our Louisiana section! There are some delicious recipes in there that need some makeovers, but some of my favorites are the gumbo, jambalaya, red beans & rice, crawfish & corn bisque, individual king cakes, loaded cheese grits, and banana pudding!

I have no idea if this pasta recipe is actually Cajun. I mean, I’ve lived here in Louisiana for awhile now, so you’d think I’d have a grasp of that kind of thing, but I’m just calling it like it is. IĀ do know that it is delicious and involves things often involved in Cajun cooking (smoked sausage…garlic…onions…peppers…a little bit of heat…), so I’m just going to call it Cajun pasta.

lightened up

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that you would NEVER guess that it is not 10 million calories. Each serving clocks in at around 360 calories, which is about what I aim for when it comes to dinner. I mean, it isn’t, like, lettuce territory or anything, but it is rich and satisfying without breaking the calorie bank.

how to make it

To start things off, you’ll need a halved and sliced red onion, some garlic, 2 sliced colored bell peppers, and 1/2 pound of smoked pork sausage, halved and cut into 1/4″ slices. If you live in Texas or Louisiana, really great smoked sausage is easy to come by. If you’re having a hard time finding smoked sausage at your regular grocery store, try your local butcher shop–many butchers make their own sausages which can be really amazing.

Preheat 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook 2-3 minutes or until it starts to release oil and is browning. Add the onions and cook until fragrant. Add the garlic and sliced bell peppers and cook until the peppers are tender-crisp. Remove from heat and transfer the sausage and peppers to a large plate. Set aside.

Return the pan to heat and add a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of water (1 3/4 if you’re at a high elevation). Bring to a boil over high heat, then quickly add 8 ounces of pasta. Let it be known that I frequently buy pasta based solely on the fact that it looks cool.

This is Italian Trottole pasta. There is something unbelievably satisfying about giant, tightly coiled noodles. I’m like a 2-year-old (and I mean that–my almost-2-year-old and I are equally excited about these noodles.)

Quickly cover the pan, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the pasta is al dente and the liquid is absorbed.

While the pasta is cooking, we’re basically going to make a Cajun-y version of our Guiltless Alfredo. place 2 cups of milk, 3 ounces of light cream cheese, Cajun seasoning, smoked paprika, and flour in the jar of a blender and blend until smooth. Heat a couple of tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. When melted, add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes or until tender and fragrant. Add the mixture from the blender and cook until smooth and thickened to where if the back of a spoon is dipped into the sauce, you can trace your finger down the back of the spoon and that spot will stay clean.

Remove the sauce from heat and add the Parmesan cheese. Stir until melted and smooth.

Add the peppers and sausage to the pasta/tomato mixture and stir to combine. Add the creamy, smoky garlic sauce and combine. Season to taste with Cajun seasoning and serve immediately.

Makes 8 servings.

 

 

48 comments

  1. This looks delicious! I just used my peppers last night for dinner! Guess I’ll have to get more. Thanks for the deliciousness. Would andouille sausage work well then?

  2. Oooookay, my dinner plans are now set. Are those noodles made by a special brand? I have never seen them at my regular grocery stores.

  3. Looks amazing! There is an error in the write-up and the printable recipe. It says to melt butter and add butter instead of melt butter and add garlic.

  4. It will make my husband so happy when I make this for Father’s Day. It sounds awesome!

    Have you ever frozen the alfredo sauce? I’m thinking about making up a big batch of it and freezing it in portions so we can have it more often without making such a mess in my kitchen.

  5. Not only can my husband eat the same thing many nights in a row, he always orders the same thing at restaurants. I can’t do it. I’m forced to eat most of the leftovers in our house since I work from home and have access to a full kitchen. There are many days that I have to get creative to motivate myself to eat the same thing. Again.

  6. This looks amazing!! My husband doesn’t like cheese.. do you think it would be ok if it was left out? Or is there a subtitution I could use?

      1. lol, I’ll have to try it when he’s not home… it sounds weird but he hates cheese. with a passion. He will definitely notice it, believe me! Crossing my fingers for kids who love cheese!

  7. I have a major aversion to sausage, don’t know why, just can’t eat it. Wonder what I could substitute or I could try it meatless. Decisions, decisions.

    1. I was wondering the same thing, just because I’ve been trying to make vegetarian dinners more often. I think it would be delicious meatless or with chicken or something, but obviously it would lose some flavor without the sausage, so I wonder what to put in to replace some of that flavor?

    2. You could do rotisserie chicken or shrimp–both of those are fairly legit Louisiana foods, haha. See if you can find a Cajun-seasoned rotisserie chicken. Or just play around with the Cajun seasoning and the smoked paprika to find a good balance of smoke and heat–if things are getting a little too salty but not hot enough, you can add Tabasco or cayenne pepper.

  8. This is so delicious! I think I may make the Guiltless Alfredo Sauce like this all the time now. Also, that is my favorite sauce of all time. Thanks for being awesome!

  9. You are right—-it’s hard to believe that this isn’t a calorie laden dish. But hooray that it isn’t!!!! Nice combo of textures in a one pot dish. I am with you—-I like leftovers but after there is a limit to how many times I want to eat it.

  10. Oh my….JUST made this and it is fabulous. An easy dish and SUPER tasty. I didn’t make any changes to the sauce or veggies, but I subbed Basque sausage for it (What we like and can find here in Idaho) and it is soooo good. A great recipe going into the rotation. I also found the pasta at Fred Meyers too.

  11. Made this for Father’s day and my husband enjoyed it very well. For those who may not have a blender, after making the roux with the butter, garlic and flour, you can add the spices, milk and cream cheese to the pot and just cook until thickened, while whisking to make certain the sauce is smooth. This worked well for me. Thanks for the great recipe.

  12. Made this tonight. I doubled up on the meat, sauce and veggies, realized too late that I was short on both tomatoes and pasta but all was well in the end. Very flavorful dish that lends itself exceptionally well to customization. I think next time I’ll caramelize the onions really well to get that awesome depth of flavor and switch up my spices a bit. The crunch from the peppers (red/yellow/orange/green, whatever you use) was a little unexpected and the perfect compliment to the rest of the dish which was savory and very ‘melt in your mouth’. #winner

  13. I am in the middle of making this and so excited by all of the smells! My third OBB dinner in a row, after guiltless alfredo (on talapia) and taquitos with yummy ranch. Thank you for making me excited to cook after a long day at work šŸ™‚

  14. I made this tonight and it was super yummy! I love creamy foods! Thank you for sharing. I know I can always count on the recipes from you guys to be good ones!

  15. Shoo mercy! This is good!
    Thank you for an easy to prepare weeknight meal that tastes like I worked much harder than I actually did!

  16. I love love love this pasta! I have been making it for over a year now and every time I do I can’t believe how yummy it is! I’m always disappointed when I order pasta at a restaurant because it is never as good as this! I usually use penne because I have yet to find your recommended pasta, but I’m always on the lookout haha. Thank you so much!

  17. I have made this many times and it’s one of my all-time favorite dishes. I love the flavor of everything and leftovers are tasty too. Thanks for this one!

  18. This looks so amazing and also delicious. I am going to try it tonight. Though I have eaten it in restaurants, I have never tried it at home. This will be my first time trying out your yummilicious recipe. Also, how long can I freeze it? Is it safe for up to 2 weeks?

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