We’re gradually adding in more vegetarian dishes to our weekly menu, and that means we’re always on the lookout for tasty veggie-based dishes. This Cajun Veggie Pasta is a delightful blend of blackened bell peppers and mushrooms along with a spicy sauce and pasta. Talk about a winning combination!
The original recipe came from FoodNetwork.com, but by the time we’d finished sitting down at the table, it had taken far longer than their time estimates. As a result of misinterpreting the recipe, the veggies cooked too long and were a bit overdone. And, because the veggies and sauce took longer than anticipated, the gluten-free pasta sat around too long. So, with those lessons in mind, here’s the modified recipe along with a few tips to save you time and make the dish a little healthier.
The original Cajun Veggie Pasta recipe has a lot of fat and carbs. You can eliminate some of that by using milk instead of cream and adding in some cornstarch to thicken. On the taste front, keep in mind that the goal of blackening those veggies is to add some flavor, not cook them. The veggies will have plenty of time to cook once you add the liquid. And finally, don’t start cooking the pasta right away. Bring the pasta water to a boil, but then turn off the heat and put a lid on it. (I know, bad cliché, but fun.) When you’re about ten minutes out, crank up the heat and start cooking the pasta. If you’re timing is good, the pasta will be ready just in time to add it to the sauce.
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Cajun Veggie Pasta
- 1 lb spaghetti or fettuccini For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 large green bell pepper sliced into strips, then cut in half
- 1 large red bell pepper sliced into strips, then cut in half
- 1 lb white mushrooms quartered (Option: canned mushroom)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 4 tsp Cajun seasoning
- 2 zucchini quartered lengthwise, then sliced
- 2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup heavy cream Less fat option: see notes below
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside. If using gluten-free pasta, shorten cooking time by 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoon each olive oil and butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add the green and red bell peppers and mushrooms (if using fresh). Sprinkle garlic and 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning over the veggies. Brown/blacken veggies for 1-2 minutes.
- Stir the blackened veggies and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and butter. If using canned mushrooms, add to the hot skillet. Add the zucchini and another 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring, for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium-high. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan.
- If substituting milk for heavy cream, combine 1 tbsp. cornstarch and 1 tbsp. water in a small bowl just before you're ready to go to the next step.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, pour in heavy cream (or milk) followed by the tomatoes and cornstarch mixture (if using). Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. About 3 minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta and scallions to the sauce and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with chopped parsley.