Named for the red, green and yellow bell peppers that bring vibrant color to the dish, and harken to Rastafarian culture this Rasta pasta is a play on the classic penne Alfredo you know and love. In this version I’m using chicken breast as the protein, but the chicken could easily be replaced with shrimp, or a piece of salmon on top, or just enjoy the pasta, alfredo sauce and bell peppers if you’re vegetarian! I’ve done all of the above. As a matter of fact, when I make this Rasta pasta for a crowd, like a birthday party, I usually make it without meat to please all guests and avoid any potential allergies.
I have both vegetarians and pescatarians in my family, so during holidays and at family gatherings I’m always thinking of ways to please their palettes too. I want them to look forward to Thanksgiving dinner and other occasions as much as the meat-eaters do. So if you make this protein-free I can assure this Rasta pasta packs enough flavor punch to hold its own.
A note about this recipe. To me, the perfect Alfredo sauce is creamy, cheesy and coats the pasta, sticking to every piece. I don’t want thin, runny pasta sauce in the bottom of my bowl like a soup. So I’ve combined several techniques in the Alfredo sauce recipe to achieve it all. We start with a roux, the butter adds flavor and the flour thickens the Alfredo sauce just enough. The cream cheese may be a surprising addition to you in this Alfredo sauce recipe, but you won’t taste it, and will be left with a luxurious sauce that is velvety in texture. Trust me, this Alfredo sauce has it all – flavor, creaminess and good body, leaving nothing to be desired. You’re going to love it!
(Yields 4-6 Servings)
1 stick of butter
4oz cream cheese
1c. heavy cream
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2c. plus 2tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
¼c. chopped parsley
½ each red, green, yellow bell peppers
1lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1tsp black pepper
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup vegetable oil
Slice your bell pepper halves into slices ¼ of an inch thick, set aside.
Mince your garlic cloves and set aside.
Bring a large pot, bring generously salted water to a boil. Add one fourth a cup of vegetable oil to prevent pasta from sticking to each other later.
Cook penne pasta per the directions on the package until JUST al dente. Remember the pasta will continue to cook in the Alfredo sauce later.
While the pasta is cooking, season chicken breasts with ½ a tablespoon of salt and pepper and saute on each side in olive oil over medium high heat. Butterfly each breast, if needed, for quick and even cooking.
Once breasts are cooked through remove from the pan, and place on a plate to rest.
Drain pasta, but keep about 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water for later.
In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat.
Saute your bell peppers until slightly charred on both sides and remove from pan – about 2-3 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add your butter to the same pan you sautéed the bell peppers in, and allow it to melt.
Add 1tbsp of flour and whisk vigorously to combine with the butter. This is your roux. This will help thicken the Alfredo sauce.
After about 1 minute, had 1/2 a pack of cream cheese, allow to melt and whisk to combine.
The mixture will look a bit like cottage cheese at this point, thats ok.
Add your garlic, and let simmer 1 min until fragrant.
Then stream in your heavy cream as you whisk to combine with the butter.
Once the cream mixture is heated, add your parmesan cheese and stir until all the cheese has melted and thickened the sauce.
Add ½ a tablespoon of salt and your chopped parsley. (Keep a pinch of parsley for garnishing later.)
Reduce heat to medium low, add your pasta to the sauce and toss to coat all of the penne in the sauce.
If needed, add some of the starchy pasta water we kept to loosen the sauce – 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
As the pasta simmers and reheats in the sauce, slice your chicken breasts into slices about ½ in thick and 1inch long.
After 2 minutes, add your shredded parmesan if you like it extra cheesy!
Then add your bell peppers and chicken to the pan and fold in gently. Allow to warm 1-2 minutes.
Garnish with the additional shredded parmesan and the pinch of chopped parsley we saved and…