Cajun Pastalaya for Superbowl Sunday

Pastalaya is a take-off on jambalaya, a Louisiana favorite. Pastalaya contains the most of same ingredients–substituting pasta for the rice. It’s easy to took a large batch; great for a Superbowl Sunday party or for any crowd.

Jambalaya is a standard Cajun food here is South Louisiana, with Gonzales claiming itself as “Jambalaya Capital of the World.” (They like to brag–but they also make good jambalaya!)  Real jambalaya is rice, smoked meats, seasonings all cooked in a cast iron pot–the cast iron pot is a must.

pastalaya - 2 - IMG_2307_1

What is Pastalaya?

Pastalaya is a rather recent “invention.” At least I’ve only heard it mentioned in the past couple of years. The recipe substitutes pasta for the rice in jambalaya. I decided to give it a try, as I have a covered dish supper at dulcimer music festival coming up in a month for a crowd.

The basic process with either jambalaya or pastalaya is to sear the meats–I used chicken and sausage–cut up the seasonings (onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic) and saute them, add back the meats, dried pasta and water/broth. The main difference is that I don’t use any tomatoes in jambalaya but added a can of Rotel brand tomatoes and mild green chilies to the pastalaya.

It’s cold outside–I’m not planning on cooking this in a cast iron pot outside on a propane burner. But it does take a large, heavy pot.  For left-overs, they freeze well, too, for future meals.

Pasta

For pasta, any type will do. I like penne pasta, because it is bite size pieces, picks up the flavor and is a little thicker–taking longer to cook. It holds together after cooking for a longer time. I add the dry pasta to the pot, so you’ve got to add the right amount of liquid to avoid pasta swimming in the mix.

Spices

Many Cajun seasoning or blends or seasoned salt will work. I often will add Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

This time I used a salt-free jambalaya seasoning blend from Andy Roo, a Cajun chef. It s available at a local spice market, the Red Stick Spice Company. I “discovered” this store when looking for a hostess present last summer and have been back there any number of times. It sells teas, Cajun spices, Indian spices, olive oils and lots of local Louisiana products. Many of their spice mixes are blended locally. I use an Indian mix in a cauliflower recipe coming in near future blog. Plus it is fun to browse, inspire and especially nice to purchase from a locally owned company.  redstickspice.com/ Great for gifts; they will mail-order products.

Cajun Pastalaya Recipe

13 oz package of skinless beef smoked sausage, cut in 1/4 inch slices (about 2 cups)
1 pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, meat removed from bones and shredded (3 cups)
1 large onion, finely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 celery stalk, diced (1/2 cup)
4 garlic cloves, diced
8 oz dry penne pasta
1 quart sodium-reduced chicken broth
1 ten-oz can Rotel brand diced tomatoes and mild green chilies
2 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning or 2 Tbsp salt-free Andy Roo’s Jambalaya seasoning (that’s alot of seasoning, but it doesn’t contain salt and the pasta soaks up the seasoning)
2 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped, more for garnish

  • Sear the sausage over medium heat in large pot, remove and set aside, drain off most of the drippings,
  • Add onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic and cook over medium heat, with lid on, stirring often until translucent and tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Add sausage, shredded cooked chicken, Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (or Andy Roo’s seasoning) and stir,
  • Add dry pasta, chicken broth, Rotel tomatoes with mild green chilies, parsley,
  • Cover, bring to boil, stir, reduce heat and cook 15 minutes, Uncover and cook longer if any liquid is left.

Serve with crackers or French bread.

Yield: 10 cups.

Enjoy!  Here’s hoping your favorite team wins the Super Bowl this Sunday.

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