One my husband's all-time favorite meals is The Pioneer Woman's Cajun Chicken Pasta. And why wouldn't it be?? Blackened chicken and veggies simmered in a rich cream sauce served over glorious mounds of fettuccini. The mere thought of it makes me drool!
Unfortunately the recipe, while a fabulous, indulgent treat, doesn't really bode well for the carb-conscious. Which is why I have transformed it into these delicious Cajun Chicken Spaghetti Squash boats. The same rich, hearty umptiousness of the original made Keto and low-carb friendly by replacing the fettuccini with spaghetti squash and then baked with Monterrey jack cheese and parmesan. So you can enjoy all of the flavor without the guilt!
Cajun Chicken Spaghetti Squash Boats
- 2 spaghetti squash, medium
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1.5 cup bell pepper, sliced into ½ in strips
- ½ red onion, halved and sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 tbsp butter divided
- 3.5 tsp cajun seasoning divided
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional, feel free to adjust heat level by leaving out altogether or amping up)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
- parmesan, grated (optional)
Roast the Spaghetti Squash
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Halve the spahghetti squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and center bits using a spoon or ice cream scoop.
- Drizzle a little olive oil over the inside of the squash and sprinkle it with salt & pepper.
- Place the squash, cut side down, on the baking sheet and roast for approximately 40 minutes, or until cooked through but still firm.
- Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Once cool, use a fork or spoon to gently scrape out all of the cooked squash and set aside. No need to worry about getting every last bit as you'll be refilling them later!
Make the Cajun Chicken Filling
- While the spaghetti squash is roasting prepare your filling by combining 1.5 cups of sliced bell pepper (you can use any color you have on hand), half of a red onion halved again and sliced and 3 cloves of minced garlic in a bowl. Sprinkle with 1.5 tsp of cajun seasoning. Set aside.
- Slice your chicken breasts into ½ inch strips and place in another bowl. Sprinkle with 1.5 tsp of cajun seasoning and mix to coat.
- In a cast iron skillet or other heavy bottomed pan heat 1 tbsp olive oil and ½ tbsp but over high heat until melted.
- Add half of the chicken in a single layer (do not stir) and brown over high heat for one minute. Flip to the other side and brown, undisturbed, for an additional 1 minute.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken to a clean plate. Repeat the process with the remaining chicken until all chicken has been browned.
- Add remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and ½ tbsp butter to the pan. When melted, add in the pepers, onion and garlic. Season with a pinch of salt and cook, undisturbed, over high heat for about 1 minute. You want to get the veggies as dark as possible.
- Add chopped tomatoes and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Remove all vegetables from the pan into a clean plate or bowl.
- With the pan still over high heat, pour in 1 cup of chicken broth to deglaze and continue to cook on high for 3-4 minutes, scraping the bottom of pans to catch any delicious brown bits.
- Reduce heat to medium low and whisk in ¾th cup of heavy cream, stirring/whisking constantly.
- Cook sauce over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken a little.
- Add in ½ tsp of cayenne pepper (if desired) and ¼th cup of shredded parmesan and stir to combine.
- Taste the sauce at this point to see if it needs any additional salt, pepper or cayenne. The level of heat is completely up to your personal preference!
- Add browned chicken (and all the juices) and cooked vegetables to the pan and cook over medium heat for a minute until the mixture is bubbly and hot. Remove from heat.
Assemble and bake the boats
- Preheat over (or turn heat down) to 375 degrees F.
- Add cooked spaghetti squash to the pan of cajun chicken and use tongs to thoroughly combine.
- Fill your empty spaghetti squash "boats" with the mixture until full or until the mixture has been used up.
- Sprinkle ¼th cup of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese on the top of each "boat".
- Bake the fill spaghetti squash boats at 375 degrees F for around 12 minutes or until heated through.
- If desired, broil them for an additional minute or 2 to get the cheese really brown and bubbly.
- Remove from oven and let cool on the countertop before serving.
- Top with a freshly grated parmesan and fresh parsley.