Spicy Cajun Shrimp Pasta

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Tantalize your tastebuds and satisfy your hunger with this healthy cajun dish.

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Dive into the tasty world of cajun cuisine with our spicy cajun shrimp pasta – a dish that promises to tantalize your taste buds with its bold and fiery flavors. This recipe combines large, juicy shrimp seasoned with the unmistakable zest of Cajun spices, perfectly cooked whole wheat pasta, and a rich cream sauce, creating a symphony of flavors in every bite.

Ideal for those who love a bit of heat in their meals, this cajun shrimp pasta recipe is a delight for the taste buds and a visually appealing meal that’s perfect for both weeknight dinners and special occasions. The balance of spicy, savory, and creamy elements makes it a crowd-pleaser, while its straightforward preparation ensures you can easily bring this dish to your table.

Spicy Cajun Shrimp Pasta Ingredients

shrimp pasta

Whole Wheat Pasta

Whole wheat pasta is a healthier alternative to regular pasta, offering a richer fiber content and a nuttier flavor. For cooking, be sure to use plenty of water and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. If whole wheat pasta isn’t your preference, feel free to substitute with any pasta variety you like, such as white pasta, gluten-free options, or even spiraled vegetables for a low-carb version.

Shrimp

Shrimp brings a sweet, seafood richness to the dish and is a great source of lean protein. When cooking shrimp, remember they cook quickly; they’re done as soon as they turn pink and opaque. Frozen shrimp can work as a convenient alternative. If you’re not a fan of shrimp, chicken or tofu can be great substitutes in this spicy cajun pasta.

Cajun Seasoning

Cajun seasoning is the heart of this dish, offering a blend of spicy, garlicky, and herby flavors. Be mindful of the salt content in store-bought Cajun seasonings; you may want to adjust additional salt in the recipe accordingly. If you don’t have Cajun seasoning, you can mix paprika, garlic powder, a bit of cayenne, oregano, thyme, and black pepper to create a homemade version.

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder adds a subtle, earthy flavor. It’s less intense than fresh garlic but equally aromatic. You can substitute with an equal amount of fresh minced garlic if preferred; just sauté it until fragrant before adding other ingredients.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is used for sautéing and brings a mild, fruity flavor to the dish. It can be substituted with other vegetable oils or even butter, but olive oil is recommended for its health benefits and flavor profile. Make sure the oil is hot before adding the shrimp to get a nice sear.

Fresh Garlic

Fresh garlic cloves offer a punch of sharp, pungent flavor that’s key in many savory dishes. Mince them finely for even distribution of flavor. If you’re short on time, pre-minced garlic or garlic paste can be a convenient alternative.

Heavy Cream

Heavy cream adds richness and creates a lusciously creamy texture in the pasta. For a lighter version, half-and-half or whole milk can be used, although the sauce may be less thick. Dairy-free cream or coconut milk are good vegan options.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes add a pop of color and a juicy, tangy flavor to the dish. If cherry tomatoes aren’t available, diced regular tomatoes can be used. Consider roasting them briefly to enhance their sweetness and flavor.

Step-by-Step Instruction

spicy cajun shrimp pasta

Creating this cajun shrimp pasta is quite simple! Here’s how to do it:

  1. Cook the Pasta: Start by cooking the whole wheat pasta in a pot according to the package instructions. Aim for ‘al dente’ – firm to the bite. Once cooked, drain the pasta and set it aside. Remember to reserve a cup of pasta water for later, as it can be used to adjust the sauce’s consistency if needed.
  2. Season the Shrimp: In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp with Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. Toss until the shrimp are evenly coated with the spices. This step is crucial for infusing the shrimp with the bold Cajun flavors.
  3. Cook the Shrimp: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and sauté for about a minute until fragrant but not browned. Add the seasoned shrimp to the skillet. Cook them for about 4 or 5 minutes, flipping halfway through until they are opaque and cooked through. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp, as they can become tough and chewy.
  4. Combine with Pasta: Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the shrimp. Pour in the heavy cream and add the halved cherry tomatoes. Gently stir everything to combine, ensuring the pasta and shrimp are evenly coated with the cream and that the tomatoes are distributed throughout.
  5. Season and Serve: Finally, season the pasta with salt and black pepper to taste. If the sauce appears too thick, you can thin it with a little reserved pasta water. Cook everything together for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce has slightly thickened and the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Plating: Serve the pasta hot, plated beautifully with a garnish of fresh parsley or a sprinkle of additional Cajun seasoning, if desired.

Customize This Spicy Cajun Pasta

cajun shrimp pasta

The beauty of this spicy cajun shrimp pasta lies in its flexibility, allowing you to tweak the recipe according to your personal preferences or dietary requirements. Here are some customization ideas to make this dish uniquely yours:

Vary the Protein

While shrimp is a classic choice, you can easily substitute it with chicken, sausage, or even tofu for a vegetarian option. Each protein brings a different flavor and texture to the dish, making it versatile for various tastes.

Add Vegetables

Boost the nutritional value by adding vegetables like onion, bell peppers, spinach, or asparagus. They not only add color and additional flavors but also make the meal more wholesome. Sauté the vegetables in the same skillet before adding the pasta for a one-pan meal.

Change Up the Pasta

Whole wheat pasta is a healthy choice, but you can experiment with different types of pasta such as gluten-free, chickpea, or lentil pasta for dietary variations. Each type will add a unique twist to the dish.

Adjust the Creaminess

If you prefer a lighter sauce, substitute heavy cream with half-and-half or whole milk. For a dairy-free version, coconut milk or almond milk can be great alternatives, adding a unique flavor profile to the dish.

Spice Level

Cajun seasoning is known for its kick. If you’re sensitive to spice, reduce the amount of Cajun seasoning or opt for a milder spice blend. Conversely, if you love heat, feel free to add extra Cajun seasoning or a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Garnishing Options

Garnish can transform your dish. Consider adding freshly chopped herbs like parsley or cilantro for a burst of freshness. A sprinkle of parmesan cheese or lemon zest can also add a new dimension to the flavor.

Gluten-Free and Low-Carb Options

For a gluten-free version, ensure your Cajun seasoning and other ingredients are gluten-free. You can also make this dish low-carb by using zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead of pasta.

FAQ for Spicy Cajun Shrimp Pasta

cajun shrimp

What is the trick to making a rich tomato sauce?

The key to a rich tomato sauce lies in using quality tomatoes and cooking them down to bring out their natural sweetness and depth of flavor. Adding a small amount of sugar can balance the acidity, while herbs like basil or oregano enhance the sauce’s complexity. For this recipe, the cherry tomatoes, when cooked with the cream and spices, create a rich, flavorful sauce that complements the pasta and shrimp.

Where is cajun powder made?

Cajun powder originates from Louisiana in the United States, particularly in the cajun region which is known for its unique and flavorful cuisine. The powder is a blend of spices that reflect the diverse cultural influences in cajun cooking, including French, African, and Native American. It typically includes paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, pepper, and other spices.

Is cajun very spicy?

Cajun seasoning is known for its bold flavor with a noticeable level of heat, but it’s not typically overpowering. The spiciness can vary based on the specific blend and brand. If you’re sensitive to spice, you can look for milder versions or simply reduce the amount used in the recipe. Conversely, if you enjoy extra heat, feel free to add more or complement it with additional cayenne pepper.

Can I make this cajun shrimp pasta gluten-free?

To make this spicy cajun shrimp pasta gluten-free, ensure that your cajun seasoning and pasta are gluten-free. Many stores offer gluten-free pasta options made from rice, corn, or other gluten-free grains. Always check the labels to ensure that all ingredients meet gluten-free standards.

How can I store leftover spicy cajun shrimp pasta?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They should keep well for up to 3 days. When reheating, you may need to add a splash of water or milk to loosen the sauce, as it may thicken in the fridge.

Are there any dairy-free alternatives for the cream?

For a dairy-free version of this dish, you can substitute the heavy cream with coconut milk or a dairy-free cream alternative. These substitutes will still give you a creamy texture while making the dish suitable for those on a dairy-free diet.

Can I use frozen shrimp for this cajun pasta recipe?

Yes, frozen shrimp can be used in this recipe. Make sure to thaw them properly before cooking. The best way to thaw shrimp is by placing them in the refrigerator overnight. If you’re short on time, you can run them under cold water. Ensure the shrimp are completely dry before seasoning and cooking to get the best flavor and texture.

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Spicy Cajun Shrimp Pasta

This healthy homemade comfort food packs a tasty Cajun kick!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 4 people
Serving Size 1.5 cups
Course Main Course
Cuisine Cajun

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound whole wheat pasta
  • 1 pound shrimp large, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package instructions and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together shrimp, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder and salt.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are opaque,, about 4 or 5 minutes.
  • Add cooked pasta to the skillet along with heavy cream and cherry tomatoes. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 424kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 199mg | Sodium: 149mg | Potassium: 571mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2034IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 4mg |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 11
Keywords Quick and Easy

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Kelsey Butler, MS, RDN

Kelsey Butler is a Registered Dietitian and recipe developer. From a young age, Kelsey found a love for creating delicious recipes. Now, with a Master's in Nutritional Sciences, Kelsey uses her culinary skills to create healthy and unique recipes for many different diets. She is passionate about creating a healthy relationship with all foods and recipes that everyone can enjoy. Kelsey has a passion for cooking, but she also enjoys the outdoors, staying active, and traveling. She is currently living with her partner in New Zealand.

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