This lightened up version of creamy cajun pasta is full of Louisiana flavor, but packed with veggies, protein, and light on fat!
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
3–4 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
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.