This Rasta Pasta is a colorful, flavorful, and creamy pasta dinner. Penne is tossed with a creamy sauce, flavored with a sweet and spicy jerk seasoning blend, and topped with chicken!
I LOVE spicy pastas. Trevor made me this easy shrimp alfredo for one of our first dates and ever since I’ve been hooked. I mean pasta, creamy sauces, tons of spices…what more could you want? This rasta pasta is all of those things with a Jamaican flavor twist…GIMME.
What is rasta pasta?
Rasta pasta is a colorful and flavorful pasta dish made in a creamy sauce with Caribbean inspired seasonings.
What really sets rasta pasta apart from other pasta dishes is the jerk seasoning blend used to flavor the creamy sauce. It’s a traditional Jamaican blend of seasonings that adds so much sweet, spicy, and delicious flavor!
The homemade jerk seasoning is what really makes this recipe! Don’t skimp!
- Onion Powder, Dried Thyme, Ground Allspice, Black Pepper, Salt, Cinnamon, and Cayenne Pepper – makes up the jerk seasoning blend, a sweet and spicy mixture that originated in Jamaica.
- Penne Pasta – the perfect shape for the sauce to cling to. It’s also similarly sized to the sliced chicken and veggies, which makes for the perfect mouthful! Use another tube pasta, if preferred.
- Chicken Breast – I use boneless and skinless, but feel free to use chicken thighs if that’s what you have on hand.
- Red Bell Pepper, Yellow Bell Pepper, Green Bell Pepper, and Onion – our delicious veggie blend that adds so much freshness, sweetness, nutrients, and color to the dish.
- Garlic – gives that nutty flavor.
- Half-and-Half – the base for the creamy and delicious pasta sauce.
- Parmesan Cheese – helps to thicken the sauce and give that melty, cheesy texture.
- Cilantro and Green Onion – optional, for garnish.
How to make
This recipe is ready to go in under an hour and is a meal in and of itself: carbs, veggies, and protein!
- Whisk all spices together in a small bowl then set aside.
- Place chicken breasts onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. Cover each breast with butter then rub them with half the seasoning blend on both sides. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.
- Melt additional butter in a sauté pan, add in bell peppers and onion, then cook until tender. Add in garlic and remaining seasonings then cook for another 30 seconds.
- Stir in half-and-half and cheese and simmer.
- Stir in pasta then top with sliced chicken, serve, and enjoy!
What chicken to use
Use 2 (8 oz) boneless and skinless chicken breasts seasoned with the jerk seasoning, then bake! Feel free to use chicken thigh or even shrimp if preferred!
What kind of pasta to use
The classic rasta pasta noodle is penne pasta. However, other varieties will work as well! Try bow tie, rigatoni, rotini, or even fettuccine!
What is jerk seasoning?
Jerk seasoning a classic Jamaican spice blend. It’s is a sweet and spicy combination of garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, allspice, black pepper, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
Today, we’re leaving the garlic powder out of the spice blend and using fresh garlic instead for a little extra kick!
- Use a different protein. Many rasta pasta dishes use shrimp instead of chicken which is also super delicious! Or make it vegetarian by using tofu.
- Use a different pasta. Try bow tie, rigatoni, rotini, you name it.
- Make it dairy-free. Sub the half-and-half with full-fat coconut milk and leave out the cheese.
- Make it vegan/vegetarian. Swap the half-and-half for coconut milk and leave out the chicken and cheese. Feel free to use a vegan parmesan cheese if desired!
- Add more veggies. Try broccoli, asparagus, spinach, etc.
- Make it creamier. Use heavy cream instead of half-and-half.
How to store
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen then heat either in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Equipment for this recipe
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt + more to taste if desired (I use about 2 teaspoons)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper omit if you don’t like spice
- 1 pound penne pasta cooked al dente according to package directions*
- 2 (8 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 1 red bell pepper sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper sliced
- 1 green bell pepper sliced
- 1/2 yellow onion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pint half-and-half plus more for thinning out the sauce, if necessary
- 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- Cilantro and green onion for garnish
- Whisk spices together in a small bowl, then set aside.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone mat.
- Place chicken breasts onto prepared baking sheet.
- Cover breasts with 2 tablespoons melted butter, then rub on half the jerk seasoning (about 2 tablespoons).
- Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Let sit for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large straight edged sauté pan over medium high/high heat.
- Once hot, add in bell peppers and onion.
- Cook the peppers and onion until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Stir regularly with tongs to prevent burning.
- Add in garlic and remaining jerk seasoning, then cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in half-and-half and cheese, bring to a simmer, and simmer until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
- Stir in pasta.
- Thin with reserved pasta water or half-and-half, if necessary.
- Taste and re-season, if necessary.
- Top with sliced chicken, then serve and enjoy!
*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.