February 6, 2023

Canadiannpizza

Cooking Is My World

Cajun Sausage Pasta – Chelsea’s Messy Apron


Dinner

Dinner

An easy one pot creamy cajun sausage and veggie pasta made healthier and a little lighter! via chelseasmessyapron.com

This Cajun Sausage Pasta is deliciously creamy, perfectly spiced, and deeply savory. Plus, we’ve made it a little bit lighter — no heavy cream needed!

A Creamy Cajun Sausage Pasta Made A Little Lighter

When I’m craving a hearty, Alfredo-based pasta, the goal is pure comfort food. Meaning, it needs to be ultra creamy and packed with flavor. Typically this kind of cream base is achieved with a whole lot of heavy cream and/or cheese (hello my fave creamy sausage pasta!)

But not with this healthy Cajun Sausage Pasta — in fact there is no heavy cream and much less cheese than most recipes. But you can rest assured that we aren’t sacrificing flavor or creaminess — not one bit! Even with the few swaps to make this dish a bit lighter, it still tastes just as indulgent as a heavy cream based pasta.

Quick Recipe Breakdown

  • Cajun sausage pasta — no cream! Instead we use milk. Use low-fat (1%) for lowest calorie/fat percentages. Or use 2%/whole milk for the creamiest result (these options still deliver far less calories than cream).
  • Using chicken broth in the sauce. Instead of solely relying on milk in the cream sauce, 1/3 of the sauce is made up of chicken broth which has a fraction of the calories and fat that milk does.
  • We’re relying on low-fat cream cheese (or neufchâtel cheese) plus less Parmesan cheese than a typical creamy Alfredo sauce. Just enough to still get that classic Alfredo flavor, but without all the extra fat.
  • Then we add a myriad of delicious seasonings which add an incredible depth of flavor without adding any calories/fat.
  • An alternative sausage option. While any skinless smoked sausage works great here, we typically use turkey sausage as a lighter option. (And it’s truly delicious in this Cajun Sausage Pasta!) If you aren’t a fan of turkey sausage, we recommend making this cajun pasta with Andouille sausage.
  • Of course, we can’t forget all of the veggies we’re “sneaking” in here — onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, and garlic!

How To Make Cajun Sausage Pasta

  • Season as you go. If this dish tastes flat, it’s likely fixed with a sprinkle of salt or some extra cajun seasoning. 
  • Optional additions. If the sauce tastes too heavy, cut through it with some fresh herbs (we prefer flat-leaf Italian parsley). For a bit of heat, I recommend adding in extra Cajun seasoning or even a pinch of red pepper flakes. 
  • Loosen the sauce. If the sauce ends up too thick at the end, pour in some additional liquid  (a splash of reserved pasta water or extra milk) to thin it out a bit and get it to nicely coat the pasta.

Cajun Sausage Pasta Alfredo Ingredients

  • Butter: If you’d prefer to shy away from the butter, this sauce works great with 1/4 cup olive oil instead of butter.
  • Flour: This ingredient is responsible for thickening up the sauce.
  • Chicken broth: This ingredient cuts lots of fat/calories while infusing the sauce with additional flavor that lends a nice savoriness.
  • 1% milk: This is the lowest-fat milk I found to work in this sauce; 2% or whole milk will deliver a creamier pasta. We don’t recommend skim milk or milk alternatives like soy, almond, or oat milk. These milks don’t thicken well and change the overall flavor substantially.

Ingredients Continued

  • Seasonings: Cajun seasoning (see “quick tip” below), dried oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper deliver incredible depth to the sauce. Feel free to increase any of these seasonings to personal preference, making sure to add the salt slowly so you don’t end up with an overly salted Cajun Sausage Pasta (remember the sausage, pasta water, and chicken broth are all salted). 
  • Cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese: Neufchâtel is sometimes labeled “1/3 less fat than cream cheese.” Cream cheese and Neufchâtel cheese are extremely similar, but the Neufchâtel keeps this sauce a little lighter.
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese: Good Parmesan makes a big difference to overall flavor. Avoid canned Parmesans and go for the blocks of cheese to freshly grate. When grating the cheese for this dish, use a microplane (best texture!) or the small holes of your cheese grater.

VARIATIONS

Add a Different Protein

Make Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Pasta by adding in some pan-seared shrimp! After cooking veggies, sear some shrimp (reference directions in this Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe and set aside with sausage and veggies.

Prepare Cajun Chicken and Sausage Pasta by adding in some leftover diced-up grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken. Mix just to warm through when adding the pasta to the sauce.

STORAGE

Cajun Sausage Pasta Recipe Storage

This recipe is best enjoyed the minute it’s finished. In fact, this is when all pasta dishes taste their best!

You can certainly store leftovers, but you’ll likely need to add a splash more milk or chicken broth to loosen the sausage again as you reheat the pasta. (Pasta will continue to absorb the sauce as it stores). Leftover pasta will be softer, but still plenty flavorful.

Because of the pasta and dairy in this dish, it isn’t a great candidate for freezing and thawing.

QUICK TIP

Don’t forget to season the water with plenty of salt before adding in the pasta; otherwise the entire Cajun Sausage Pasta will taste under-seasoned. As a general rule of thumb, I add 1 teaspoon salt per 4 cups of water.

More Lighter Pasta Dishes:

Cajun Sausage Pasta

This Cajun Sausage Pasta is deliciously creamy, perfectly spiced, and deeply savory. Plus, we’ve made it a little bit lighter — no heavy cream needed!

Cajun Sausage Pasta

This Cajun Sausage Pasta is deliciously creamy, perfectly spiced, and deeply savory. Plus, we’ve made it a little bit lighter — no heavy cream needed!

Instructions

  • PREP: dice onion, mince garlic, remove the stems & seeds and then thinly slice the bell peppers. Slice the sausage into thin coins.

  • SAUSAGE: Place a large cast iron skillet/pot (big enough to hold all the pasta later!) over medium-high heat. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon oil. Once oil is hot, add coined sausage. Let sear, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl, leaving behind the oil. Set aside for now.

  • VEGGIES: Add another tablespoon olive oil to the pan along with the diced onion. Stir for 1 minute then add in the sliced peppers & mushrooms. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until veggies are crisp-tender, about 6-8 minutes. (Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil if needed.) Dump sautéed veggies on top of the sausage, setting aside for now.

  • PASTA: Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions subtracting 1 minute from time indicated on package. Be sure to generously salt the boiling water (I add 1 tsp salt for every 4 cups of water)

  • CREAM SAUCE: In the same pan veggies were cooked in, reduce heat to medium. Add in the butter. Once melted, sprinkle flour on top and briskly whisk until mixture forms a dough. Cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Very gradually pour in 1/2 the chicken broth while whisking constantly until mixture forms a sludge. Gradually add in remaining chicken broth and milk, 1/2 cup at a time while whisking briskly and constantly.

  • CREAM SAUCE CONT.: Now increase high to high. Bring sauce to a boil, stirring frequently so sauce doesn’t catch, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer until sauce is nicely thickened. (Sauce should be thick enough that you can draw a path across the back of a spoon and it stays, about 5-8 minutes). Meanwhile, melt cream cheese until very soft in the microwave. Add to sauce along with the cajun seasoning (to taste/spice preference; not all cajun seasonings deliver the same heat), oregano, paprika, salt & pepper (to taste). and whisk briskly until combined.

  • COMBINE: Remove cream sauce from heat. Add in cooked and drained pasta and set aside sausage & veggies (plus any accumulated liquid left behind in bowl) to the cream sauce. Use two spoons to toss everything generously until nicely coated. Gradually add in Parmesan cheese, adding a few tablespoons at a time until nicely integrated. Taste and adjust seasonings/salt to personal preference. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve immediately. If desired, grate a touch more cheese atop individual bowls with a microplane.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Sausage: Any smoked skinless sausage will work great in this dish. We typically use hardwood smoked turkey sausage to keep it on the lighter side.
Note 2: Pasta: Most packages of penne pasta are either 12 ounces (perfect amount for this recipe!) or 16 ounces. If you get a 16 ounce package, measure out 1 full cup and remove that (use in a different recipe). The remaining left in the package is 12 ounces (or 3 and 1/2 cups) — just the right amount for this recipe.
Note 3: Parmesan cheese: Packaged grated Parmesan (in the can) is very salty and won’t melt as nicely in this recipe. We highly recommend grating a block of Parmesan cheese on a microplane OR the small holes of the grater for ultra-fine cheese shreds. Alternatively, use finely grated Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 504kcal

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.