This creamy, cream-less, Cajun shrimp pasta is FULL of flavor without all the calories. It's a perfect 30-minute weeknight meal that feels way more indulgent than it is.
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How to make a lightened up creamy pasta sauce
Who doesn't love a creamy plate of pasta? My waistline, that's who.
So once again, I used my favorite hack for reducing the fat in this dish. The trick is subbing the heavy cream for canned whole evaporated milk. It's less heavy and just as delicious!
If you're wondering, my other favorite place to use this trick is in this amaaaazing homemade chicken and biscuits casserole. And in all manner of "creamy" soups, like this potato chowder with corn and ham.
If you've never worked with evaporated milk before, please note that it is absolutely NOT the same thing as sweetened condensed milk. They will probably be found near each other in the baking aisle of your grocery store though.
Here's how I make this creamy Cajun shrimp pasta.
- Combine some spices to make your very own homemade cajun seasoning. I'm betting you already have everything you need on hand for this: paprika, onion powder, oregano, thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper.
- Coat some shrimp (fresh or frozen and thawed) with the spices. *an easy trick for quickly thawing frozen shrimp is to put it in a colander and place it under cold running water, tossing occasionally.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat and quickly cook the shrimp until just opaque. Remove the shrimp to a plate and set aside.
4. Cook the pasta according to the package directions while making the sauce. Chop up some bell peppers, onion and garlic, and slice some mushrooms.
5. Return the pan to medium heat, add another tablespoon of olive oil and cook the peppers, onions, and garlic until crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes.
6. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until browned, another 2-3 minutes.
7. Add the evaporated milk to the pan, along with the whole grain mustard, and some salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce is thickened slightly. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook for a minute more (don't cook for too long or the acid in the tomatoes will cause the sauce to separate, which doesn't impact the flavor but is a bit less attractive).
8. Add the pasta to the pan, or the sauce to the pasta, depending on the size of your pans, and stir to combine.
Sprinkle with parsley to serve.
There you go! Simple and spectacular!
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Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta, Lightened Up
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 lb shrimp fresh or frozen and thawed, shelled and deveined*
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ red bell pepper diced
- ½ green bell pepper
- 4 oz white mushrooms sliced
- 2 roma tomatoes chopped
- 1 12 oz can whole evaporated milk
- 1 tablespoon whole grain or creole mustard
- Salt and pepper
- Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- In a medium bowl, combine the paprika, onion powder, thyme, oregano, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
- Add the shrimp and toss to coat thoroughly.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the penne according to the package directions. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute, then toss to finish cooking, just until it’s no longer opaque (just about 2 minutes total). Remove shrimp to a plate. Lower the heat to medium.
- Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan and add the onion, garlic, green and red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add evaporated milk and mustard and stir to combine.
- Bring to a simmer and simmer until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 4-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for a minute more.* Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the pasta to the sauce or the sauce to the pasta (depending on the size of your pan), and stir to combine. Stir in the shrimp and its juices. Serve and garnish with chopped parsley if desired.
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