Some cuisines meld beautifully, creating so-called "fusion" dishes that blend essential elements of meals from different culinary heritages. Think taco pizza, Mexican ravioli, or Korean potato salad as a few examples. But mixing Italian and Southwestern cooking — that’s a bridge too far, right? Not so much. In fact, it’s a bridge you need to cross ASAP, to extend the metaphor. Chef, food writer, and registered dietician Kristen Carli says of this easy chicken fajita pasta: "It is so delicious. I’m Italian and live in the Southwest, so it’s a blend of my two favorite cuisines."
An unexpected blending of foods to be sure but one that Carli says "will please any crowd," calling the dish "delicious and decadent." You, the chef, will also be pretty pleased by the fact that this meal requires little more than five minutes of hands-on prep and only around 20 minutes of cooking time, so you will have that crowd of hungry diners satiated fast. And assuming you have chicken at the ready (whether pre-cooked yourself or from a can), most of the ingredients here are shelf- or fridge-stable for long periods of time, so you can have this dish on the menu at all times.
A few words on cooking chicken for this easy chicken fajita pasta
There are a lot of ways you can cook chicken for this easy chicken fajita pasta. You can bake it, air fry it, grill it, poach it, cook it sous vide, and so on. All that really matters for this recipe is that you fully cook the breasts until they have reached an internal temperature of 365 degrees Fahrenheit and then you chop the meat into small pieces.
But on the other hand, you can by all means use pre-cooked chicken from a can or pouch or a rotisserie chicken you buy cooked from a store. However you choose your chicken, just plan ahead so cooking it doesn’t slow you down.
Gather your ingredients for this easy chicken fajita pasta
All in, this easy chicken fajita pasta dish calls for one tablespoon of olive oil, sliced red, green, and yellow bell peppers, a green bell pepper, a quarter of a yellow onion, sliced, two cups of cream, divided, two and a half cups of vegetable broth, a packet of taco seasoning, a pound of penne pasta, two cooked chicken breasts, chopped, and two cups of shredded Mexican cheese.
And note that if you don’t want to use meat, Carli says you can "easily omit chicken and sub in black beans for a vegetarian dish," and it will still taste great.
Sauté the veggies then make the broth for your easy chicken fajita pasta
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat on your stove. Once the oil has warmed, add the sliced peppers and onion. Sauté the veggies well, stirring them regularly and cooking until the veggies are fragrant and a bit charred, which will take about 8 minutes.
Now, add the vegetable broth (being careful to pour steadily, as you have some hot oil down there) and one cup of the cream, then add in the packet of taco seasoning. Stir the mixture well and bring it to a boil.
Cook the pasta, then add all other ingredients to your easy chicken fajita pasta
Once the pot filled with broth, cream, and sautéed onions and peppers comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook it for about eight minutes until it reaches a perfect al dente state.
"One mistake that is possible," says Carli: "When you boil the pasta in the cream and broth mixture, be sure to press the noodles down into the liquid. If they are not submerged, they will not cook."
Once the pasta is al dente, add in the remaining cup of cream, the chopped chicken, and shredded cheese. Stir to combine and keep on the heat until the cheese is melted and the chicken is warmed through.
Easy chicken fajita pasta serving ideas
This easy Chicken Fajita Pasta can be the entire meal in and of itself, what with its plentiful amount of protein, carbs, and veggies to boot. But it can also be a great part of a larger meal with various sides or even as a side itself when served in smaller portions.
"As a dietitian, I always recommend pairing meals with a side of veggies or salad," Carli says, and that’s definitely wise here, given the fact that this isn’t the lowest-carb or lowest-fat dish you’ll ever see.
If you happen to have leftovers, she adds that: "It keeps great in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days [and] reheats well in the microwave."