When I come home from work in the winter, all I want is a comforting, hot meal and some quality telenovela-watching time with my roommate. I’ve gotten stuck in a rut of quick and easy meals—roast chicken, beef stew, lettuce tacos—and, while they’re delicious, I was looking for something a little different. When I saw The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Cajun Chicken Pasta, I may have drooled a little bit, and I decided to make it for dinner that night. Since I mostly follow a paleo diet, that means no grains (nix the pasta) and no dairy (bye bye, heavy cream sauce). Instead, I used spaghetti squash as the base for a gluten-free, dairy-free dish full of colorful vegetables and my favorite Cajun combination: shrimp and sausage.
1 medium spaghetti squash, 3-4 pounds
1 medium acorn squash
2+ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
½ of one red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons Cajun spice mix, divided
2 servings raw shrimp, about 8 ounces or whatever you will eat
2 andouille or hot Italian sausage links, sliced into ½-inch thick pieces
¾ cup canned coconut milk
cayenne pepper, ground black pepper, and salt to taste
optional: fresh parsley, chopped (use as a garnish)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Halve the spaghetti squash and the acorn squash and remove seeds, then place open-side down on a baking sheet covered in foil. Roast, removing the acorn squash at 30 minutes and the spaghetti squash at 50 minutes.
While the squash are roasting, heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss in bell peppers, onion, and garlic and season with 1 teaspoon Cajun spice. Cook until vegetables are tender, then remove to a large mixing bowl. If you need more olive oil, add a small splash at this time. Add shrimp to the skillet and season with 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning. Cook until pink, about 3-4 minutes. Place the shrimp in your side bowl and add the sausage and 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning to the skillet. Sautee until cooked through, then remove to side bowl.
When each squash has finished cooking, remove it from the oven. Let the spaghetti squash cool slightly before scraping its flesh against the grain into your side bowl. Scoop out chunks of the acorn squash and put them in the skillet with the coconut milk and 1 teaspoon of Cajun spice. Mix the coconut milk and acorn squash together. To get rid of any lumps, use a potato masher or the side of a spoon. Stir until fully mixed, and add extra salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.
When the sauce is creamy and even, pour it over everything in your side bowl. Toss the “pasta”, vegetables, shrimp, and sausage with the creamy sauce, then serve. You can add fresh, chopped parsley to garnish per Ree’s recipe, but I was so ravenous that I skipped this step. Enjoy!
Inspired by Cajun Chicken Pasta from The Pioneer Woman