Chicken Pasta Jambalaya

A healthier version of Jambalaya.
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This is a simplified jambalaya dish that is healthier than a classic recipe. Don’t be fooled by the simplification; the dish has brilliant color with a very robust flavor. The aroma and pungent taste makes it irresistible. You can make this dish as spicy as you want it to be or you can lighten up the heat by using less hot pepper flakes.

This chicken and pasta jambalaya is healthier because it uses lean chicken tenderloins, colorful peppers, tomatoes and a protein plus pasta that is vegetable based. You can use whole wheat pasta to make it even more nutritious (complex carbs is better).

The leftovers are even better which makes this a great make ahead dish. I hope you will make this recipe and enjoy it as much as we do around here. Check out the easy instructional Youtube tutorial. Happy Cooking!

You may want to try this healthier version of curry:

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Chicken Pasta Jambalaya

A simple and healthier version of jambalaya. Lean chicken tenderloins, protein pasta and cajun spice colaborate with vegetables for a leaner dish.

Course Dinner, Entree, Healthy, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American, Easy, Healthy, Southern Cuisines, Stovetop
Keyword Chicken and pasta jambalaya, Chicken Jambalaya, Chicken tenderloin recipe, Healthy Pasta, How to make a healthy jambalaya, Penne Pasta, Protein Plus Pasta, Southern Cuisine
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 People
Calories 621 kcal
Author Yasmin Jackson

Ingredients

FOR THE PASTA:

  • 16 ounces penne pasta (I used 1 box of Barilla Protein Plus)
  • A large pot of salted water

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken tenders (optional: rinse and dry)
  • 2 tablespoons cajun spice mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (adjust for your diet)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

FOR THE VEGETABLES:

  • 1/4 cup diced red onions
  • 5 small plum tomatoes diced
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper seeded and sliced
  • 1 large Jalapeño pepper sliced (optional: you can leave all the seeds in or remove them)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon cajun spice mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 2 cups chicken bone broth (or chicken broth)
  • 3 – 4 teaspoons corn starch
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley (plus 1/4 cup more to add to the pasta and for garnish)

Instructions

PASTA:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

    Note: I do this simultainously while I am cooking the chicken and vegetables. I also add the pasta so that it is ready right when the chicken and vegetables are ready.

    If your pasta finish cooking before the chicken and vegetables mixture is ready, then drain it and drizzle with olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.

    I use a 5-quart pot with about 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt.

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  1. Add the chicken to a medium bowl. Season the chicken with the cajun spice mix, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly to coat.

  2. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.

    Note: Do not heat the oil until it smokes. The oil will take 1 to 2 minutes to heat up. You can use medium heat to bring the oil to temperature but as soon as you start to add the chicken you want to turn up the heat to medium-high.

  3. Cook the chicken tenders a few pieces at a time – do not overcrowd the pan. Cook the chicken 1 to 2 minutes per side until they are lightly brown.

    Note: chicken tenders cooks very quickly and will be slightly undercooked at this point. Don't worry about this. It will cook again in the sauce.

    I cooked my chicken in 3 batches. This will depend on the size of your pan.

  4. As each batch cooks, remove them from the pan and set aside.

  5. Turn down the heat to medium. And saute the onions for 2 minutes.

    Note: cook until you smell the aroma and the edges starts to become lightly brown. Be careful not to burn the onions.

  6. Add the peppers. Season with the cajun spice mix, salt and black pepper. (Reserve a big pinch of each of these seasoning to use on the tomatoes). Mix and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Mix/Stir a few times.

  7. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Mix. Cook 30 seconds.

  8. Add the diced tomatoes. Season with a pinch more of each of the cajun spice mix, salt and black pepper. Cook 3 minutes.

  9. While the tomatoes and peppers are cooking, now it's time to add the pasta to the boiling water and cook al dente acording to the package direction.

    Note: My pasta, Protein Plus cooked in 8 minutes.

  10. Once the tomatoes with peppers have cooked for three minutes, transfer them to a bowl or plate.

MAKE THE SAUCE: IN THE SAME PAN

  1. Desolve the cornstarch in the chicken broth.

  2. Slowly add the mixture to the hot pan. Use a spoon or whisk to scrape up the brown bits (deglaze the pan).

  3. Add the red pepper flakes for additional heat (you can make this optional)

  4. Add 1/4 cup fresh parsley. Stir and bring to a simmer.

  5. Once the sauce comes to a simmer, add back the chicken tenders with any juices that were released while resting. Add in the peppers and tomatoes mixture. Stir /mix to coat the chicken and vegetables.

    Note: the sauce will thicken slightly as it continues to cook.

  6. Allow the chicken, peppers and tomatoes to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stir/mix a couple of times.

    Note: You can use medium to medium high heat.

  7. Once the chicken and peppers have cooked 3 to 4 minutes, and the sauce is slightly thicken, drain the pasta and add it to the pan.

  8. Add the remaining 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley (can reserve some for garnish). Mix to coat. Turn off the stove.

  9. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with more parsley.

  10. Plate and serve. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  1. You can use any type/brand of cajun spice mix that you like – usually found in the spice aisle of your grocery store. I use a brand called Pereg. 
  2. You can use whole wheat pasta instead of the Protein Plus or use regular pasta. You can also use spaghetti.
Nutrition Facts
Chicken Pasta Jambalaya
Amount Per Serving
Calories 621 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 121mg40%
Sodium 811mg35%
Potassium 1192mg34%
Carbohydrates 66g22%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 52g104%
Vitamin A 2291IU46%
Vitamin C 65mg79%
Calcium 43mg4%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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