Cajun Pasta

Cajun Pasta
Photo: Jason Donnelly
Prep Time:
30 mins
Freeze Time:
0 mins
Bake Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Stand Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
30 mins


  • 6 ounce dried bow tie pasta

  • 2 cup Cheesy Sauce

  • 1 ½ cup Shredded Chicken

  • 1 cup frozen sweet pepper and onion stir-fry vegetables

  • ½ cup milk

  • cup chopped roma tomato (1 medium)

  • 1 ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce

  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

  • cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)

  • 3 slices bacon, crisp-cooked, drained, and crumbled

  • 1 clove garlic

  • ¼ teaspoon paprika

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)

Cheesy Sauce

  • ½ cup butter

  • 1 cup finely chopped onion (1 large)

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 6 cup milk

  • 3 8 ounce shredded three-cheese blend with cream cheese (6 cups)

Shredded Chicken

  • 7 ½ pound bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed

  • ¼ cup lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Rinse with cold water until cool; drain again. In a large bowl combine cooked pasta, Cheesy Sauce, Shredded Chicken, frozen stir-fry vegetables, milk, tomato, Cajun seasoning, 2 cloves minced garlic, hot pepper sauce, and thyme. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart rectangular baking dish* or an 8x8x1 7/8-inch disposable foil baking pan.

  2. For crumb topping, in a food processor or blender combine panko, bacon, 1 clove garlic, and paprika. Cover and process or blend with on/off pulses until fine crumbs form. Sprinkle shredded cheese and crumb topping over pasta mixture. (To serve today, omit Step 3. Continue as directed in Step 4, except bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until heated through and golden.)

  3. Cover baking dish with foil. Place casserole in a resealable freezer bag. Seal and freeze for up to 2 months. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight (casserole may still be a bit icy).

  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake, covered, for 1 hour. Bake, uncovered, about 15 minutes more or until heated through and golden. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Cheesy Sauce

  1. In a 4-quart Dutch oven heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add onion and garlic; cook about 6 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour and pepper; cook and stir for 1 minute. Gradually stir in milk. Cook until mixture is thickened and bubbly, stirring frequently. Gradually add cheese blend, stirring until melted.

Shredded Chicken

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two 15x10x1-inch baking pans with foil.* Place chicken in the prepared baking pans. Drizzle with lemon juice and oil. In a small bowl stir together salt, thyme, paprika, and pepper. Sprinkle seasoning mixture over chicken.

  2. Roast, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (180°F). Remove from oven. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones; discard bones. Using two forks, pull chicken apart into shreds.


To avoid tying up the baking dish in the freezer for weeks, try this method. Line a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with a double layer of plastic wrap. Prepare the casserole using the lined dish and freeze overnight. When frozen, loosen edges with a narrow spatula and lift out the plastic wrap-lined food, place it in the freezer bag, and freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to thaw, remove the plastic wrap and return the food to the original baking dish. Thaw and bake as directed.

If you don't have two 15x10x1-inch baking pans, use a roasting pan for one of the pans, or cover and chill half of the chicken until the baking pan is available.If you have any leftover Shredded Chicken, add it to quesadillas or chicken tortilla soup, or freeze for another time.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

496 Calories
25g Fat
35g Carbs
31g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 496
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 25g 32%
Saturated Fat 13g 65%
Cholesterol 127mg 42%
Sodium 641mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 31g
Vitamin C 5.8mg 29%
Calcium 428mg 33%
Iron 2.2mg 12%
Potassium 417mg 9%
Folate, total 84.7mcg
Vitamin B-12 1mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.4mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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