Monday, June 17, 2013

Cajun Chicken Pasta (on the lighter side)

I love Alfredo sauce. So cheesy. So creamy. It's a perfect companion to pasta dishes, but with my lactose intolerance and dieting, alfredo sauce is a huge giant no-no. But I still miss creamy pasta dishes, so I have been scouring the internet for some alternatives. Sure, I'm never going to be able to recreate the original exactly, but you can't go wrong with a good substitute.

I had such good luck with the blueberry wheat pancakes from SkinnyTaste, I decided to see if she had any creamy pasta sauce recipes. Success! (enter Cajun Chicken Pasta on the Lighter Side, stage left).

This dish has everything delicious: pasta, a creamy sauce, some kick from the cajun seasoning, and protein from the chicken. It's not too difficult (everything cooks in one pan) but I'd rate it as moderate in difficulty since it requires a lot of prep work with the chopping of the veggies, browning of the chicken, and making a slurry (a blended mixture of liquids and solids).

Per usual, I made some changes to the basic recipe. It called for using light cream cheese, but only 3 tablespoons. I couldn't see buying a whole container of the stuff for three measly tablespoons, so I substituted four of the Laughing Cow light spreadable cheese wedges (only 35 calories each!). They're recommended by Hungry Girl and make a really excellent snack along with some low calorie crackers. I also have a pan big enough to cook all the chicken at once, even though the recipe calls for browning it in two batches. Finally, I left out the scallions and mushrooms (yech!), but added some extra tomatoes since I used canned diced tomatoes to save myself some chopping time.

But as you can see, it still turned out awesome!

 I just wanted to stand there and eat it straight out of the pan. 

A few tips if you decide to make it: this is a low calorie sauce, so it's not going to be as thick as a regular alfredo sauce. It will do in a pinch, but don't go in expecting it to be the same. I would recommend leaving it in the pan for about 5 minutes when you are done, it thickens up quickly. Or you could throw in a tablespoon or two of cornstarch and see how that works out. Also, don't be afraid of the cajun seasoning! I think next time, I might even add some hot sauce or chilis to make it even spicier.

I served with my usual spinach salad and Safeway Kitchens cranberry and nut salad topper. You get a pretty large serving with this one (1 1/2 cups) and it makes five servings. Perfect for lunches!

Total calorie count as pictured: 388. Pretty good for a pasta meal!

SkinnyTaste's Cajun Chicken Pasta on the Lighter Side

Servings: 5 • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups • Old Points: 6 pts • Points+: 8 pts
Calories: 323.8 • Fat: 6.2 g • Protein: 25.9 g • Carb: 44.1 g • Fiber: 6.3 g • Sugar:3.2 g
Sodium: 126.5 mg (without salt)  


8 ounces uncooked linguine
1 pound chicken breast strips
1-2 tsp Cajun seasoning (or to taste)
1 tbsp olive oil 1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow bell pepper
Thinly sliced 8 oz fresh mushrooms
Sliced 1/2 red onion
Sliced 3 cloves garlic
Minced 2 medium tomatoes
Diced 1 cup fat free low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup skim milk
1 tbsp flour
3 tbsp light cream cheese
Fresh cracked pepper
2 scallions chopped
Salt to taste
Smart Balance cooking spray


Prep all your vegetables. In a small blender make a slurry by combining milk, flour and cream cheese. Set aside. Season chicken generously with Cajun seasoning, garlic powder and salt.

Prepare pasta in salted water according to package directions.

Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; spray with cooking spray and add half of the chicken. Sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until done, set aside on a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. Set aside. Add olive oil to the skillet and reduce to medium; add bell peppers, onions, and garlic to skillet, sauté 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and tomatoes and sauté 3-4 more minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Season with 1/4 tsp salt, garlic powder and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium-low; add chicken broth and pour in slurry stirring about 2 minutes. Return chicken to skillet; adjust salt and Cajun seasoning to taste, cook another minute or two until hot, then add linguine; toss well to coat. Top with chopped scallions and enjoy!

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