Creamy Cajun Steak Pasta

by Kelly on November 17, 2010

Lately I’ve been trying to be healthier so I can be a little svelter and overall look more fabulous in my clothes.  Clearly trying is the operative word here with my posts as proof.  Creamy Wild Rice SoupCheese Steak Egg RollsPopcorn Balls?  Is it any wonder my clothes are a little, erhm, snug.  I want to be healthier, but I’m finding doing and wanting are two different things.

I have been healthier.  And skinner.  Much skinner.  But I as I think about my body, I cannot help but ask myself, ” Just because I can do something, should I?”   Because the fact of the matter is that while I’m not as thin as I once was I still have an average shape and am well within a healthy BMI.  And so begins the endless conversation I have with myself.  I could be skinner.  I could eat food that is lighter, and cleaner and overall less punctuated by butter and cheese.  But the fact remains that I am a girl whose passion is released by food.  I’m a girl who gets joy out of cooking based on whims and often these whims include sugar and chocolate and sometimes even a heavy hand of duck fat – all things I think are healthy in moderation.  I’m a girl who lights up when talking about a favorite artisan cheese or when baking cupcakes for co-workers.  Doing these things less frequently would probably make me skinner, but happier?  Probably not.

So, I’m not sure where that puts me.  I definitely have not solved this debate with myself except to say that I’m not as convinced as of the tireless pursuit of skinny as I was when I last lost weight at 24.  I think moderation, for me, is probably a bit more realistic.  And a lot more enjoyable if it means room in my diet for things like my Creamy Cajun Steak Pasta.  Yes, you can make creamy pasta sauces that are healthier.  I’ve made countless varietys from Cooking Light that serve as proof.  But sometimes, only half and half or cream will do.  I love the way it cuts through the slight heat in this pasta and after cooking down, beautifully clings to the pasta.  And here it pairs perfectly with Cajun spices, veggies, and steak for a pasta dish that is incredibly filling and yes, indulgent.

Cajun Pasta

Sure it’s rich enough that I wouldn’t consider it as part of an everyday rotation, but as a treat or special occasion meal it disappoint.  I love the way the sauce it has a soft, but not overpowering heat that compliments the savoriness of the meat.  The sauce is also a deadringer, in my opinion, for the sauce on the The Cheesecake Factory’s Louisana Chicken Pasta.  (Okay, I know it probably makes me a little less of a foodie that I enjoy that dish, but I don’t care, on occasion it is delicious!)

So while I may not have come to any firm conclusions with my own skinny debate, I do know one thing for certain – this pasta is definitely worth making!

Creamy Cajun Steak Pasta
Adapted from The Steamy Kitchen and A Well Seasoned Kitchen
Serves 4 to 6

-Cooking spray
-1 1-pound rib steak
-Black pepper
-1 cup sliced onions
-1 1/2 cup sliced bell peppers
-1 1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms
-2 tablespoons minced garlic
-2 tablespoons tomato paste
-1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
-1/4 teaspoon Worchestershire Sauce
-2 cups half and half
-1/2 cup Romano cheese
-1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
-1/2 farfalle dry pasta, cooked until just shy of al dente
-Sea salt, to taste


Thirty minutes prior to cooking, remove the steak from the refrigerator. Coat a grill pan with the cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Pat the steak dry and season generly with the coarsely ground black pepper.

Place the steak flat on the grill pan and sear until it has deep brown grill marks on that side, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side until a thermometer inserted sideways into the thickest part registers 120 degrees for medium-rare, 3 to 4 more minutes. (Or continue to cook longer if more done meat is preferred.) Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.

Next, spray a cast iron skillet or frying pan with cooking spray and set over medium high heat. Add the sliced onion to the pan and cook until onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and peppers to the pan and saute until the mushrooms have darkened in color and the peppers have softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove from the pan.

Spray the pan again with cooking spray and add the garlic, saute for 1 minute or until fragrant.  Add the tomato paste through half and half.  Cook until the mixture is gently bubbling, then turn the heat down to low.  Cook until the mixture has reduced by half, about five minutes.

Add the romano cheese and hot sauce.  Stir until the cheese is melted and well combined.  Add pasta to the pan and toss, cooking 1-2 minutes longer until the pasta is al dente and has absorbed some of the flavor from the sauce.  Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper as desired.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica @ How Sweet November 17, 2010 at 7:09 am

My husband would love this. This I’m adding it to the menu for next week!


Lisa November 17, 2010 at 10:01 am

Any advice on picking a piece of beef for this dish? I learned to cook when I was a vegetarian, and in the past few years since I started eating meat again I’ve always ended up standing in the meat section for way too long trying to figure out what cut of beef to buy for a recipe.


Kelly November 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Hi Lisa,

Great comment. I used a rib steak because that’s what I happened to have on hand, but in general it is great for a dish like this because the flavor is great, but it is naturally relatively tender so it is well suited to grilling. Tenderloin would also work great because it is tender, but I personally don’t like the flavor as much as rib steak.

You could certainly substitute something like hanger or skirt steak, BUT they are a bit more tough so you’d probably want to marinade them before cooking if you do so.

So I guess the simple answers is that if you want to make as above, rib and tenderloin are the best choices.


Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen November 17, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Wow that looks DELICIOUS. I think I might try it with chicken….


CaSaundra November 17, 2010 at 8:04 pm

I think to eat everything in moderation is much better than completely ruling things out–deprivation is so harsh, we only live once. And when you are a foodie like ourselves, I would much rather be a jean size bigger and eat various things than miss out on great dishes!


5 Star Foodie November 18, 2010 at 7:44 pm

This pasta sounds terrific! As for the skinny issue, no diets ever work for me, as I also enjoy eating different delicious kinds of foods but small portions are always good, I’m trying too 🙂


Shannon November 19, 2010 at 6:12 pm

I think we can still enjoy great food and not go overboard 🙂 or at least i’m trying not to go overboard… work in progress!


stephen November 20, 2010 at 10:39 am

I have to agree with the moderation thing. The problem in our culture is that we live by extremes. all fat or no fat. Full tilt exercise or couch potato.
How about a meal with fat then follow it with a pear and greens. One night pasta, the next fish and roast veggies.


Kerstin November 20, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Mmm, this looks so fabulous! I’m all about everything in moderation too. I love working out too so I think it’s fine to indulge in a little something special every day 🙂


Jen H November 21, 2010 at 10:27 am

I have that battle in myself all the time about cutting things out of my diet. THe fact of the matter cheese and cream and the occasional sweet treat are just to enjoyable for me to dump completely. I also don’t think having a fave dish at the Cheesecake Factory makes you less of a foodie, we all have our guilty pleasure that aren’t home made or five-star or trendy hole-in-the-wall. I think being a foodie means being able to appreciate all food.

And now I’m so going to go make this dish!


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