This is a great, very versatile recipe that brings in the flavors of Cajun cuisine but instead of serving it with the traditional rice, it is made as a pasta dish. The dish is versatile because as long as you keep the proportions more of less the same, you can change the vegetables and protein- you could use corn or okra instead of carrots and sweet bell peppers if you wanted to. In the same vein, instead of the hot Italian sausage and shrimp I use here, you could use chicken breast, a good quality veggie sausage, or even an equal amount of cooked beans, or any mixture of the above. Just about anything that you cook for an hour or two in this sauce is going to be tasty!
Note about shrimp: many people, including my husband, are particular about seafood. As such, I always prepare my shrimp separately for this dish and add it to the mix at the end.
2 cups uncooked penne or other small pasta
1 tblsp olive oil
3 organic hot Italian (or any other) sausage
2 cloves garlic
1 large onion
1 bell pepper
1 cup vegetable broth
1 large can tomatoes
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (not needed if you use hot Italian sausage)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
½ cup organic cream
For the Shrimp:
10-15 medium shrimp
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1. In a large saucepan, cook the penne in salted water until very al-dente. The pasta should still have bite to it as you are going to cook it in the jambalaya before serving.
2. Dice the onion, carrot, and parsnip together in a food processor or very fine by hand and set aside. Dice the bell pepper but leave it in larger chunks and set it aside.
4. In the remaining oil, sauce the onion/carrot/parsnip mixture with the bell pepper and the garlic on medium heat, stirring frequently, until onions become translucent.
5. Add the broth, and while the mixture comes to a boil, scrape the bottom of the pan to bring up all the browned bits from the sausage (this will give great flavor to the sauce).
6. Add the tomatoes, all the seasonings, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, and vinegar. Bring to a boil on medium heat for just a minute, adding the sausage back in at the boiling point. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for an hour, or even longer if you have time.
7. While the jambalaya is simmering, prepare your shrimp. Shell and devein your shrimp, and sprinkle with cajun seasoning. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and saute the shrimp on medium-high heat for just a few minutes, until the flesh is pink and opaque throughout. Set aside until serving time
8. In the last five minutes of simmering your jambalaya, add the pasta and cream to the sauce and stir well. If needed, top up the mixture with a little broth or water, so that the liquid just covers all the contents of the jambalaya.
When serving, plate your jambalaya and add your shrimp and garnish with sour cream. The only thing that makes this dish better is a nice loaf of crusty bread to eat with it. Enjoy!
-Nicole Marsh-Mueller loves to cook locally and organically for her family and blogs at The Armchair Housewife
photo credit: Nicole Marsh-Mueller