Pasta for dinner is a comfort food that nourishes a hungry belly, fills you up and certainly helps save your precious pennies. Usually when you’re serving a big Italian dinner, you’re likely serving a mini-army, family, friends, friends of friends. That, is the wonderful thing about pasta. It’s easy to make and no one will go hungry, there’s always leftovers. You may find that, after the 10th time making spaghetti and meatballs….this month, your kids and your spouse are getting a little, well, bored.
Always delicious and always classic, but adding a little variety into your meal rotation isn’t a bad thing! So, how do you change it up? As they say, variety is the “spice,” of life. Pun totally intended. If you’re getting tired of your worn out marinara recipes, then why not try something a little different? Pasta is the staple, how you dress it, season it and sauce it is where the creativity comes in. Here’s a few delicious pasta recipes for you to try that will make your guests, family and belly super happy.
Spicy Pasta Recipes
If you’re ready to try something that’s different than the standard Italian fare and seasonings that you’re used to, this amazing Cajun Chicken Pasta recipe by The Pioneer Woman will make your taste buds jump for joy. Enjoy!
Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
- 3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
- 1 pound Fettuccine
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
- 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
- 1/2 whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
- 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
- 4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
- 2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
- 1/2 cup White Wine
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- Cayenne Pepper To Taste
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
- Salt To Taste
- Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente; do not overcook!
- Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate.
- Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.
- Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan.
- With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy!
- Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.
- Top with chopped fresh parsley and chow down!
For the Seafood Lovers
Spicy Parmesan Shrimp Pasta
Changing the protein in your pasta can change the flavor and seasoning options that are available to you. If you’re used to cooking with chicken and beef, try something a little lighter. Shrimp is delicious and it’s easy to make if you buy it already cooked and frozen.
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 8 ounces penne
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, Parmesan, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine shrimp and olive oil mixture; marinate for at least 30 minutes to overnight, turning the bag occasionally.
In large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and sauce mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink, about 2 minutes. Stir in pasta and gently toss to combine; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan and green onions, if desired.
Spicy Pesto Chicken and Pasta
Pesto is a fun way to change up your sauce, while marina is a good go-to sauce, a pesto recipe can change the flavor combinations and be incredibly fresh!
- 16 ozs farfalle pasta (uncooked, bow tie pasta)
- 3 tbsps olive oil
- 1 tbsp chile paste (such as sambal oelek)
- 1 lb skinless boneless chicken breasts (cut into 1 inch pieces)
- 6 tbsps basil pesto sauce (prepared)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place farfalle pasta in the pot, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix in the chile paste and chicken. Cook and stir chicken 10 minutes, or until evenly browned and juices run clear. Toss the cooked farfalle, pesto, Parmesan cheese, and cilantro into the skillet, and continue cooking just until heated through. If you want to try a fresh homemade pesto recipe, pull out your food processor and try this incredible recipe.
Homemade Pesto Recipe
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
- Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.
- If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.
Keep it Spicy
If you’re loving the extra kick to your pasta, there’s a way for you keep it going by simply stocking your pantry and your fridge with little touches that will change the dish. Fusion flavors like mexican, asian or mediterranean spices are always a good option. In addition keep the following ingredients handy; peppers, cayenne, curry, black pepper, chilis, and a variety of hot sauces to add to the mix!