Loaded with bold spices, this jerk chicken rasta pasta is the perfect blend of Jamaican-Italian cuisine. Made with bell peppers and served in a creamy sauce, every bite of this rasta pasta recipe is packed with textures and flavor.
This colorful jerk chicken rasta pasta tastes like Italian pasta took a trip to the Caribbean and picked up the island’s most treasured flavor: jerk seasoning! Stirred into the veggies for a more mellow taste, every bite of this dish carries the essence of Jamaica in just the right amount.
Why You’ll Love This Pasta Recipe
- Easy to Prep: Ideal for quick dinners, it’s a hassle-free dish that delivers rich and favorable flavors.
- Adaptable: Tailor the tomato and coconut milk sauce to your taste, spice it up, or make it milder. You can also make the meal vegetarian without losing any of that zest.
- Flavor Fusion: Explore Jamaican and Italian cuisines in one! Experience the spicy kick of the Caribbean meets Italian pasta in every jerk-seasoned bite.
What Is Rasta Pasta?
Rasta pasta, or jerk chicken pasta, is prepared with bell peppers and aromatics seasoned with jerk seasoning. Tossed in a creamy coconut milk sauce, the best of Jamaica’s flavors are presented on a dinner plate. The pasta is tossed with tomatoes and a nice helping of parmesan. When it’s all mixed together, this rasta pasta is a beautiful representation of fusion cooking.
What Is Jerk Seasoning?
It’s a popular Jamaican seasoning inspired by “jerk”, which is Jamaica’s traditional cooking method that consists of marinating or dry-rubbing meat with a spice blend to infuse maximum flavor. To cut down on cooking time but still get the same spiced goodness in quick, less-planned dishes, jerk seasoning was invented. It combines the country’s most used spices as follows: onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, Paprika, allspice, salt, pepper, red chili flakes, ground cumin, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, dark brown sugar, dried thyme, and dried parsley.
Ingredients For the Pasta
- Penne pasta: You can also use fusilli, rigatoni, fettuccine, etc.
- Vegetable oil: Canola oil and olive oil are okay to use.
- Yellow onion: White onion is a good substitute.
- Garlic: Substitute fresh garlic with 4 teaspoons of garlic powder if needed.
- Bell peppers: all colors
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: Feel free to use chicken thighs.
- Canned roasted tomatoes: You can also use fresh tomatoes.
- Full-fat unsweetened coconut milk: Heavy cream and half-and-half are good substitutes.
- Veggie stock: Chicken stock works too.
How to Make Jerk Chicken Rasta Pasta
- Jerk Seasoning: Combine seasoning ingredients in a bowl, set aside a portion for the recipe, and store the remainder.
- Pasta: Boil the pasta as per instructions, drain, and toss with oil if not using immediately.
- Onion and Garlic: Sauté the onions in oil until tender, add garlic, and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Bell Peppers: Stir in the bell peppers and jerk seasoning, cook until soft, then remove them from the pan.
- Chicken: Cook the chicken in the same pan until browned on all sides, then return the veggies to the pan.
- Tomatoes: Add the tomatoes to the pan, breaking them down as they cook until the sauce starts to reduce.
- Coconut Milk and Pasta: Stir in coconut milk, veggie stock, and parmesan, then add pasta and simmer until sauce thickens.
- Serve: Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed, and serve.
Recipe Tips And Variations
- Use rotisserie chicken. Use leftover rotisserie chicken to reduce the cooking time.
- Buy jerk seasoning. Use store-bought jerk seasoning to cut down on prep time.
- Prep ahead. Make the seasoning, cut your veggies, and boil the pasta in advance. Toss the pasta with a bit of olive oil so it doesn’t stick.
- Skip the tomatoes. If you don’t like tomatoes, leave them out.
- Make it more Italian. Add 1/4 cup of ricotta into the sauce and even increase the amount of tomatoes for a more Italian rasta pasta.
- Add spinach. Fresh or frozen spinach adds flavor and extra veggies to your meal.
- Make it vegetarian. Remove the chicken from the recipe to make it a vegetarian meal.
- Spice it up. For spicy pasta, chop up a Scotch bonnet pepper and add it to the sauce.
What to Serve With Rasta Pasta
Jerk chicken pasta is a full meal, but you can always add this beautiful Cobb Salad, my Green Bean and Egg Salad, or this Spring Vegetable Potato Salad to the menu as a starter. You could also serve the pasta in smaller portions and use it as a side to my Honey Soy Grilled Pork Chops or this Oven Grilled Steak.
Rasta Pasta tastes best when served immediately, but you can refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat it in the microwave in 30-second increments or in a pan over medium heat.
More Easy Pasta Recipes
- Spinach Pesto Chicken Pasta Bake
- Creamy Pasta with Ricotta, Mint, and Garlic Sauce
- Broccoli and Sun-Dried Tomatoes Pasta
- Kale and Feta One Pot Pasta
- Chicken and Vegetables Pasta Bake
Jerk Chicken Rasta Pasta
- 1½ tablespoons onion powder
- 1½ tablespoons garlic powder
- 1¼ tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons paprika
- 2½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2½ teaspoons salt
- 1¼ teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ pounds penne pasta
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 medium orange bell pepper, sliced
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper, sliced
- ¾ pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into 2-inch cubes
- 14.5 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1¼ cups full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
- ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Mix all the ingredients for the jerk seasoning in a small bowl until well combined. Set it aside.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain it and set it aside.
- Add 2½ tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Toss the bell peppers into the pan. Add 2½ tablespoons of the jerk seasoning. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Transfer the mixture to a plate and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil to the pan and set over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook it for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Stir the veggie mixture back into the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the tomatoes into the pan and stir well. Use a spatula to break them up. Let the mixture cook for 7 to 9 minutes or until it begins to reduce.
- Add the veggie stock and coconut milk. Mix until well combined. Add the parmesan cheese and stir. Transfer the pasta back into the pan. Let it cook for 8 to 9 minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Remove from heat and taste for salt and pepper; adjust accordingly.
- Garnish with parsley and serve warm.
- Chicken: If you want to save some time, use rotisserie shredded chicken instead of fresh chicken breasts.
- Jerk Seasoning: I make mine from scratch, but using store-bought jerk seasoning will reduce your prep time.
- Coconut Milk: Use canned coconut milk. Coconut milk for cooking comes in a can and differs a lot from the cartons of non-dairy “milk substitutes” that people use for smoothies and cereal.
- To make the pasta creamier, add 1/4 cup of ricotta to the sauce.
- Make Ahead: If you’d like to prepare this recipe a day ahead, I recommend cutting up all the veggies, making the seasoning, cooking the chicken, and boiling the pasta. Then, store each ingredient in a separate airtight container and refrigerate. Stir 1/2-tablespoon olive oil through the pasta so it doesn’t stick or dry out.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.