Do you have a restaurant where you only order one item and haven't tried anything else on the menu because it's so good? I usually try to venture out and try other dishes if I like the restaurant but sometimes if that one meal is so good, I can't help but order it every time. This is very much the instance with a local family-run Cajun Italian restaurant in my neighborhood. They make a jambalaya pasta that's the perfect amount of spice with tender chicken and spicy sausage. I cannot get enough of it. Naturally, me being me, I wanted to try to recreate it in my own kitchen. With a couple of my own touches, I came up with this shrimp and chorizo jambalaya pasta that I dare say - is just as delicious!
Shrimp and Chorizo Jambalaya Pasta
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp oregano dried
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp cayenne
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 lb shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 ounces chorizo cured
- 1 red bell pepper sliced
- 1 green bell pepper sliced
- ½ medium red onion sliced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 1-2 tsp Cajun spice seasoning
- 12 ounces fettuccine pasta
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- Combine the dry spices including paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, and black pepper. Season the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of the Cajun spice mix and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook the shrimp until pink and cooked. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In the same pan, add the chorizo and cook until browned and caramelized. Push the sausage to the side and add the sliced bell peppers and onion. Saute the vegetables until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and saute for another minute.
- Meanwhile, cook the fettuccine until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
- Add the pasta, reserved pasta water, and the remaining Cajun spice mix to the sauteed vegetables and chorizo. Season with 1 tsp of Cajun spice and add the grated parmesan. Continue to simmer, tossing the ingredients together. Add back the shrimp and cook for another minute or until warm. Taste the pasta and season, adding more Cajun spice if desired. Top with fresh chopped basil and serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
I'm a sucker for Cajun spices. Cajun-spiced potato wedges? Yes, please. Cajun-spiced shrimp? Heck, yes! This would probably also explain why I enjoy this shrimp and chorizo jambalaya pasta - because of all of the spices!
I prefer to make my own Cajun spice blend for the main flavor profile and add the pre-made Cajun spice mix sold in stores as the finishing touch. This way, I can control how spicy and salty the dish is. Combine the paprika with oregano, onion, garlic, cayenne, and black pepper together to make the Cajun spices. This blend makes a fairly mild dish so bump up the cayenne if you like spicy.
I love the combination of shrimp and sausage but you can also stick to chicken instead. Season the protein with the blend of spices and let it sit while the oil heats in the pan.
Set aside the cooked shrimp while you finish the pasta. Next, brown the chorizo until caramelized, then add the vegetables, cooking them until softened. You don't typically use chorizo for jambalaya but I like the extra spiciness from the sausage. You can also use mild or spicy Italian sausage if you prefer.
I also added sun-dried tomatoes to the pasta which isn't a normal ingredient but found that the tart tomatoes balanced the spicy chorizo beautifully.
Cook the fettuccine while the vegetables are cooking, then add the hot pasta with ½ cup of the pasta water to the mix. We're going to use the pasta water to help create a sauce and bind all of the flavors together. Add the grated parmesan along with 1 tsp of the premade Cajun spice seasoning, adding more if desired. I find the premade Cajun seasonings to be salty so only add a little to start.
Add the shrimp back to the mix, tossing to coat everything together, and give it a final seasoning. I didn't add cream to the shrimp and chorizo jambalaya pasta but if you like a bit of creaminess, add ¼ cup to the dish.
Finish the pasta with a touch of more grated parmesan and fresh basil and it's ready to be devoured. Spicy, flavorful, and oh so delicious in every bite!
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