The classic Mardi Gras dish gets a change-up with pasta instead of rice, for a savory, hearty winter meal. Pasta Jambalaya is loaded with shrimp, chicken, and andouille sausage, plus the onions-celery-peppers holy trinity, and seasoned with Creole spices.
Fat Tuesday jambalaya has become a tradition in my house. Even though I live up north, I’m not Catholic, and I don’t give stuff up for Lent. So, whaddupwiddat?
I’ll tell you whassup: Jambajambajambalaya. Holy-aromatic-trinity smokes, Carnival revelers. Jambalaya.
Because Mardi Gras and Easter lead us directly into spring and spring’s lighter foods, jambalaya usually slips quickly to the back of my mind, but this year, I’m going to make it my personal mission to enjoy the jambs all year round. It’s the perfect vehicle for leftover bits of chicken or seafood, so that nothing goes to waste.
Plus, the holy trinity of vegetables pop right out of my garden every year, so jambalaya will be the answer to, “drat, I didn’t plan dinner tonight!” all summer long.
If you’ve never cooked with the Cajun holy trinity — although you probably have without even realizing it has a name — you need to add this to your recipe to-do list. All of the classic Cajun/Creole dishes we know and love — étouffée, gumbo, and, of course, jambalaya — begin with the magic combination of onions, bell peppers, and celery.
Simmered with andouille sausage and Creole spices … mmmmhmmmm, if the interwebs had a smell-o-vision option, y’all’d be running to the nearest grocery store to load up on pasta jambalaya supplies.
Even though American recipes typically borrow the French’s mirepoix — onions, celery, carrots — as our aromatic base, if you browse my recipes (especially soup recipes), you’ll see that I lean Cajun, and go with the peppers and celery (and onions … always onions). Carrots are often too sweet for what I’m going for, but the combination of peppers and celery add just the right earthy astringency to super-power the flavor of many dishes.
Mardi Gras is just once a year, so enjoy some pasta jambalaya, a big slice of King Cake, and a sazerac or two. If it’s extra chilly where you are, try my thick and hearty Fat Tuesday Jambalaya Soup. And if you’re a total home-cookin’ DIYer like I am, check out my homemade Creole seasoning, which is the irresistible cat’s meow of spice blends, and makes any jambalaya positively crave-worthy.
- 8 ounces pasta (penne rigata is nice)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 small green bell pepper, diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning (up to 1 tablespoon)
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 14 ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 heaping cup chopped, cooked chicken
- Minced flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain, and set aside.
- In a large skillet or sauteuse, heat the oil over medium until shimmering. Add the sausage, and cook until the edges begin to brown.
- Stir in the onions, peppers, and celery and saute until softened. Pour the wine over the veggies and continue sauteing until the wine has reduced.
- Add the butter to the pan, and then sprinkle the flour, Creole seasoning, paprika, and salt over everything, and stir until thickened. Add the tomatoes with their liquid. Stir until completely mixed. The liquid should thicken up again.
- Pour in about 1/2 cup of the broth, along with the shrimp. Stir until the shrimp is cooked through, opaque, pink, and plump, and then add the chicken.
- Add more broth in small amounts, until the jambalaya is saucy (but not soupy). Taste, and add salt as needed.
- Gently stir in the pasta until coated with the sauce.
- Garnish with the parsley, and serve immediately.
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