The dinner that is on our weekly rotation is this Healthier Chili's Cajun Chicken Pasta!
When I think of my teenage self going to a ✨fancy✨ restaurant. I immediately think of Chili's. Which is funny to me at 27 years old, but at 16-17 it was the place to be, ok!?
I had a comfortable upbringing, but my parent drew the line at frivolous spending when I was driving age. I could drive the car to and from school ONLY if I could pay for my own gas and spending money (read $20 a month for like a movie or something).
Now of course, my parents bailed me out more often than not with $10 and $20 here and there, but it was a GREAT dose of responsibility for that age where it's time to learn how the world works.
I say all of this to lead up to, if I went to Chili's with friends, I was paying for Chili's with friends. It was understood that I could always eat dinner at home that my mom had prepared, so I pay for it if I'm choosing something else.
I remember many times where my friends and I would go to Chili's after school and I would order a side of broccoli and fries with a water. We would share chips and salsa. Cheap, filling, and what else does a 16 year old need? 🤪
But if I really wanted to splurge, I was getting the CAJUN CHICKEN PASTA (angelic voices) ✨ It was always such a treat and I always thoroughly enjoyed it because I was paying for it with my hard earned money!!
I haven't ordered that dish in years, but I still love a good chicken alfredo dinner. My version is healthier since there is no heavy cream AND takes just 40 minutes to make!
Ok, I'm in! What will I need?
- A saute pan for cooking the chicken and pasta
- A trusty pot for boiling the pasta
- A trusty knife for slicing the chicken
- And you need a serrated knife for those tomatoes! (I just use my bread knife)
And what else can I make with this Healthier Cajun Chicken Pasta?
I'm glad you asked, you should make -
- Simple Roasted Broccoli (you will eat these broccoli pieces like popcorn)
- Roasted Asparagus
- No Knead Bread
Healthier Cajun Chicken Pasta
For the chicken -
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon Tony's
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the pasta -
- ½ pound fettuccine pasta or penne to be exactly like Chili's
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon Tony’s
- ½ c whole milk
- ⅓ c pasta water (water from cooking the pasta)
- 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese + more for topping
- Black pepper for topping
- Roma tomatoes for topping
- Chopped parsley for topping
Prepare the chicken -
- Heat a large saute pan to medium high heat.
- Meanwhile, slice two chicken breasts in half to create 4 thin sliced chicken breast pieces. Season with 1 teaspoon Tony's.
- Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and once hot, add the chicken breast and let cook undisturbed for 5-6 minutes.
- Flip and let cook for another 5-6 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
- Remove chicken breast from the saute pan and let rest on a plate. You will use the saute pan for the next step, so do not clean just yet!
Prepare the pasta -
- Boil pasta according to package and before straining, reserve ⅓ cup of the pasta water.
- In the same saute pan used for the chicken (with chicken remnants still in the pan), add the butter and once melted, add in the sundried tomatoes. Cook together for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in flour and with a straight edge wooden spatula, mix until the roux combines and let cook on medium low for 5 minutes.
- Slowly add in the milk, while continuing to mix until incorporated.
- Add in the garlic powder, Tony's, pasta water and continuing to mix until incorportated.
- Bring mixture to simmer and let slightly thicken (only about 3-5 minutes).
- Turn off heat, mix in parmesan cheese and then add in fettuccine noodles and toss gently to mix. Cover completely and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Plate with fettuccine first, top with sliced chicken and then diced tomatoes, parsley, and black pepper! Enjoy!!