Johnny’s Cajun Pasta is loaded with chicken, shrimp, smoked sausage, peppers, onions and penne pasta in a spicy Cajun alfredo sauce. This dish is true Texas comfort food – spicy, smokey, saucy, hearty, quick to make, and brag-worthy!
It took Lee and Laurie Stoeckert of Viera, Florida 20 years to recreate this dish they enjoyed at Johnny Orleans Pasta Kitchen, in Dallas, Texas before declaring it a “keeper”. Lee discovered Johnny Orleans during a business lunch and then introduced his then girlfriend, now wife, Laurie to the restaurant. It quickly became their go-to date-night spot and eventually played host to their wedding rehearsal dinner.
Even before the restaurant closed in 2022, Lee was on a quest to recreate the dish. He wanted it a little saucier, spicier with enough to freeze for a later in the week “lazy dinner”, or as Lee calls it: freezer food night!
Thank you, Lee and Laurie for submitting this to Our Table 4 2 as a Keeper Recipe.
Johnny's Cajun Pasta...The Details
Here’s are the main components of this dish:
Pasta - Look for a hearty noodle like penne or rotini that will hold the sauce.
Shrimp – Try to buy it with shells and tails (either fresh or frozen works in this recipe) to peel and devein yourself - easier than you think, cheaper and the meat of pre-shelled shrimp can be damaged. Plus, it’s great way to include your dining partner in preparation.
Smoked Sausage – A variety such as andouille is carried in most grocery stores and likely to be found next to hot dogs, breakfast meats, etc. Slice to ¼” thickness .
Chicken Breasts – Cut the meat into ¼” cubes or slices. You will toss evenly and liberally sprinkle with Cajun seasoning.
Crawfish Tails - Totally optional, but if you can find them they make this dish a little more Cajun! Think: a lobster/crab/shrimp flavor with less salinity and more sweet The day Lee submitted this recipe, the Fabian Seafood Truck rolled into town – and you guessed it - they were selling crawfish. Yum!
Medley of Peppers– Green, red, and orange bell peppers give this pasta dish color and fresh snap. I added more than what the recipe calls for – the orange and red peppers are a little sweeter than the green and add a nice pop of color to the dish.
Red Onion - Sharper and spicier than yellow onions, this is my first choice when pan grilling, because their interior texture goes jammy, instead of mushy, like white and yellow onions tend to do.
Cajun Seasoning – Find this in the spice aisle next to salts, peppers, and grilling seasonings. It’s got paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, pepper and oregano. Blackening seasoning– a little less spicy than Cajun, or Creole - which adds more herbs to the Cajun seasonings will also work.
Cajun Alfredo Sauce - Be sure to serve bread to mop up the sauce left on the bottom of your bowl. It’s that good! It is fairly simple and comes together quickly. What sauce isn’t bowl lickin’ good when wine, tomatoes and cream are in the base? This recipe makes a lot of sauce which makes for a later “freezer food night” dinner. (See “Cooking for Two” below)
Louisiana hot sauce, cayenne pepper, and jalapeño peppers will add another level of heat. Taste and season as you make the sauce.
Cooking for Two?
Lee’s advice is to double the recipe since the Cajun alfredo sauce freezes well. “If I am really lazy I go ahead and cook up the pasta and freeze the pasta along with the sauce”. Here’s what to be mindful of when freezing the Cajun alfredo sauce.
1. Freeze only the sauce, pan grilled meat, seafood and vegetables.
For best results, freeze the Cajun alfredo sauce, which includes the pan grilled meat, seafood and vegetables – everything but the drained pasta – separately in an airtight container such as a mason jar. The pasta won’t hold up well when defrosted and reheated – it basically turns into mush.
Follow this tip: When making pasta sauce for freezing, hold the pasta back and freeze the sauce without it. Then while you’re reheating it, boil fresh pasta and add directly to the rewarmed Cajun alfredo sauce.
2. Overfilling or underfilling the container.
You may be determined to fit every last ladleful of pasta into the freezer container, but stop before you overfill it.
Liquids expand when they freeze, so if you fill the container to the top, you risk the soup expanding and possibly breaking through the container. On the other hand, you also don’t want to underfill the container, as the more air inside, the faster freezer burn can occur.
Follow this tip: Leave about an inch of space between the pasta and the container’s lid when filling it. That will give the liquid enough room to expand, but will limit contact with air, which can cause freezer burn.
3. Defrosting and reheating the sauce.
When it’s a “freezer dinner night”, defrost the sauce during the day in the refrigerator, then cook the pasta while warming the sauce gently over low heat on the stove until bubbling.
Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and you have a homemade dinner in under 10 minutes!
Getting Started - pan grilling meat, seafood & veggies
While, the pasta is cooking – please, don’t forget to salt your water, thoroughly season the chicken with the Cajun seasoning. Best to toss it in a bowl to make sure it’s evenly coated.
Now turn to the stove top to pan grill the chicken and sausage. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy pot like a dutch oven, over high heat until the foaming subsides. Add just enough chicken in a single layer without crowding the pan.
Do not disturb for the first minute the chicken is in the pan – we want to get a nice brown or grill charred effect. Once the chicken is no longer pink, you will remove the chicken from the pan and repeat the same process with the sausage.
Lower the heat to medium and melt some more butter and add equal parts oil and butter to the pan. Once the butter and oil are hot, begin pan grilling the peppers, and onions.
It is important to season only the pepper and onions with Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper after adding them to the pan.
Thank you Samin Nosrat author of Salt, Fat, Acid Heat cookbook for this tip about when in the cooking process is the right time to salt. And more importantly how to salt!
Adjust the heat and stir occasionally until the vegetables are soft and brown – it is perfectly fine to have blackened edges.
Add the tomatoes, garlic and jalapeno (if using) to the vegetable mixture in the dutch-oven over medium-high heat, Sauté for 30 seconds. With the pan still on medium heat, pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze – mixing in all those bits of smoky goodness.
Pour in the chicken broth and cream. As things thicken add heavy whipping cream to get it to just the consistency you’d like. Don’t forget to taste and season as you go.
Personally, I could slather this sauce on just about anything! Don’t worry if it’s not spicy enough for you, it could just as easily cause wide eyes for some family members. If not, add more hot sauce or jalapeno pepper!
What is deglazing?
Deglazing a pan involves adding liquid, such as stock or wine, to a pan to loosen and dissolve food particles that are stuck to the bottom after cooking or searing. The cooked food particles, known as fond, are the source of immense flavor.
The finishing touches...
Add the chicken, andouille sausage, shrimp and cooked pasta. Simmer until shrimp is cooked and the ingredients are warm. Top with parsley, chives or green onion tops. Enjoy this keeper submitted by Lee and Laurie Stockert!
Lastly, if you make the Johnny’s Cajun Pasta, be sure to leave a comment and give this recipe a rating!
If you have a recipe you would like to share with the Our Table 4 2 community, click on image box!
And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram. @Ourtable4_2 or use #OurTable42. Looking through all the photos is a daily highlight!
Johnny's Cajun Pasta
Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box
You can access your saved recipes on this device and generate a shopping list for recipes in your collections.
- 1 pound pasta penne or rotini are good choices, something that can hold the sauce well
Proteins and Seasonings:
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into ¼" - slices
- 3 teaspoons cajun Seasoning adding more to taste
- 1 pound andouille sausage ¼ " - slices
- 1 pound shrimp medium, peeled, and deveined
- 1 pound Crawfish tails optional
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
Vegetables for sauce
- 1 green bell pepper seeded and sliced into ¼" strips
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and sliced into ¼" strips
- 1 orange and/or yellow bell pepper optional, seeded and sliced into ¼" strips
- 1 whole jalapeño peppers optional, sliced into ¼" rounds, add another for more heat
- 1 medium red onion halved and cut into half moon ½" strips
- 4 Roma tomatoes diced OR 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes (I prefer fire-roasted tomatoes)
Additional Sauce Ingredients
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste plus some for sprinkling plus some for garnish
- 2 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce or your preferred hot sauce. Additional to taste.
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh Parsley chives, or green onion tops
- Bring 2 quarts salted water to boil in pot for cooking pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain when the pasta is still al dente; do not overcook! Set pasta aside. Meanwhile, sprinkle 1 ½ teaspoons of the cajun seasoning (or more) over the chicken. Toss around to coat evenly.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy pot over high heat until foaming subsides. Add enough chicken in a single layer without crowding the pan. Cook chicken for 1 minute, without stirring, then stir and cook until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to a bowl with a slotted spoon and reserve (leaving the juices behind). Repeat the process with the remaining chicken until all the chicken has been browned, adding more butter and oil if needed. Add more butter and oil if need, Repeat the same process in the same (unwashed) pan with the andouille sausage slices. Remove and reserve (same bowl as the chicken).
- Lower heat to medium and melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil, once heated, add the peppers, onion, and garlic. Sprinkle in the remaining Cajun Seasoning (or more). Add salt and pepper as needed. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occassionally, adjusting heat as needed to soften and brown the vegetables. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan and reserve. With the pan still over medium high heat, pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze (all the bits are goodness). Add the cream, stir to combine, then add chicken broth, and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes total.
- Cook the sauce over medium-low heat for a 3 to 4 minutes, until the cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, Louisiana hot sauce, and salt to taste. The sauce should be spicy!
- Add the chicken, andouille sausage, and vegetables back to the sauce, make sure to include all the juices that have drained into the bowl! Simmer over medium heat, stirring occassionally until the mixture comes to a gently boil, about 1 minute. Stir in the (peeled and deveined) shrimp and any other optional seafood. Once the mixture comes to a gently boil add the drained pasta and stir to coat. Remember, if you are making pasta sauce for freezing, hold the pasta back and freeze the sauce without it. See Cooking for Two tips in the post for freezing.Top with your choice of garnishes. Serve.
Your Notes, Tips and Tricks
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.