Rasta Pasta! Are you ready for a colorful meal bursting with flavor? Here it is!
This is a creamy jerk pasta loaded with red, green and yellow peppers. You can also top it off with shrimp or chicken. It’s generously seasoned with Jamaican jerk seasoning and finished off with freshly grated parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
This easy Rasta Pasta recipe whips up in about half an hour, perfect weeknight dinner!
What is Rasta Pasta?
The original version of “Rasta Pasta” was invented in Jamaica by chef Lorraine Washington in 1985. It has evolved somewhat, but the key to the name is the Rasta colors: green, yellow and red.
You’ll find different variations, but it always involves green, yellow and red bell peppers, along with pasta, in a creamy and cheesy jerk seasoned sauce.
Often, it has some kind of protein, usually chicken or shrimp, though you can also make it meatless. Whichever way you go, it’s one tasty dish!
Why You’ll LOVE this Jerk Pasta
- Explosive Flavors: Each bite is a flavorful adventure thanks to the jerk seasoning. It’s like a party for your taste buds, and everyone’s invited!
- Versatility: Got chicken or pork? Swap it in for the shrimp! You can even go vegetarian by adding tofu or just loading up on the veggies.
- Quick and Easy: With simple ingredients and straightforward steps, this dish comes together in less than half an hour. Perfect for those busy weeknights!
- Instagrammable: Let’s be real, this dish is a beauty. Those colorful peppers make it a feast for the eyes as well as the belly. Snap a pic; it’s totally Insta-worthy!
- One-Pan Wonder: Aside from boiling the pasta, everything else happens in one skillet. That means fewer dishes to wash, and more time to enjoy your culinary masterpiece!
Is it Spicy?
Yes, the Rasta Pasta can be spicy, primarily due to the jerk seasoning used in the recipe. The heat level can vary depending on the potency of the jerk seasoning you use, but generally, it’s designed to bring some kick to the dish.
The creamy sauce and cheeses do help balance the heat, but if you’re sensitive to spice, look for a jerk seasoning labeled “mild.”
What’s in Jerk Seasoning?
Jerk seasoning is a complex blend of herbs and spices. Some of the key components include scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar and thyme.
Check out our Jerk Marinade recipe to get an idea of what all goes in there.
Our Ingredients for Rasta Pasta
- Pasta – We used penne, but use whatever you feel like that day. According to the origin story, the first Rasta Pasta was made with fettuccine, which was said to resemble dreadlocks.
- Bell Peppers – Green, yellow and red… of course!
- Jerk Seasoning – You will find two types in the grocery store, a powder and a paste. This recipe calls for the paste. You can usually find it in the international section of supermarkets.
- Green Onions – The white parts go in the pasta, the green parts are for garnish.
- Garlic – Gotta have it!
- Spices – Thyme, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and Old Bay.
- Shrimp – Not in the original version of Rasta Pasta, but a great addition.
- Cream – Heavy whipping.
- Cheese – Parmesan and Mozzarella.
How to Make Rasta Pasta
1. Cook Pasta: Boil it in salted water according to the directions on the package to al dente.
2. Marinate the Shrimp: Mix the shrimp in a mixture of jerk seasoning, olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder and Old Bay. Marinate while prepping other ingredients.
3. Cook the Shrimp: Sauté them quickly and then set aside.
4. Create the Sauce: In the same pan, melt butter and stir in paprika. Add in peppers and white parts of green onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for a minute. Stir in cream, jerk seasoning and thyme and cook till peppers are cooked to your preferred doneness. Stir in parmesan and mozzarella cheese, until they are melted into the sauce.
5. Finish the Dish: Add in pasta and shrimp. Garnish with remaining green parts of green onions. And that’s it!
Can You Make it Dairy-Free?
Replace the cream with coconut cream. Chill a can of coconut milk in the fridge. Then, without shaking the can, open it and skim the cream from the top of the can. Use that coconut cream instead of regular cream.
Can You Use Other Meats?
Certainly! You can easily replace the shrimp with chicken. We sometimes make it with leftover rotisserie chicken, but you can certainly use raw. Just follow these steps prior to continuing with the rest of the recipe.
First, cut one pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs into strips. Season it with the same amount of the jerk seasoning you would use for shrimp.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in your skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken strips and sauté for about 5-6 minutes. Remove to a plate and follow the remaining steps as described above.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Use Good Quality Shrimp: If wild shrimp are available, they are better tasting and have a better texture than farmed.
- Adjust the Heat: Jerk seasoning can be spicy, so if you’re sensitive to heat, start with a smaller amount and taste as you go. Conversely, if you love spice, go ahead and ramp it up!
- Fresh vs. Dried Herbs: If you have fresh thyme on hand, use it! It’ll add an extra layer of freshness to the dish. Use about 1/2 Tbsp of fresh thyme to replace the 1/2 tsp of dried.
- Pasta Choices: While penne is recommended, you can opt for other pasta types like fettuccine or rigatoni. Just ensure you cook it al dente for the best texture.
- Cheese Quality: Opt for freshly shredded parmesan and mozzarella. Pre-shredded cheese often contains anti-caking agents that can affect the smoothness of your sauce.
- Sauce Thickness: The sauce will thicken upon standing. If it gets too thick, simply thin it out with a splash of milk or pasta cooking water.
Leftovers and Storage
Leftover Rasta Pasta refrigerates great in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Simply reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave with a few tablespoons of water.
We don’t recommend freezing it, as cream does not freeze well.
So, are you ready to give your pasta some kick? Whip up this easy Rasta Pasta recipe and all you spice lovers are sure to come back! When you try it, please leave a star rating and a comment, I love hearing from you!
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Rasta Pasta, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1.5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 Tbsp jerk seasoning
- 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
For Rasta Pasta
- 8oz pasta (we used penne)
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 4-5 green onions
- 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp jerk seasoning (the paste variety, see note 1)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Cook pasta in salted water according to the directions on the package to al dente.
- Mix the shrimp in a mixture of 1 Tbsp jerk seasoning, 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder and Old Bay. Marinate while prepping other ingredients.
- Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp in a single layer. Cook about two minutes per side, then remove to a plate.
- In the same pan, melt butter and stir in paprika. Add in peppers and white parts of green onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for a minute. Stir in cream, jerk seasoning and thyme and cook till peppers are cooked to your preferred doneness.
- Stir in parmesan and mozzarella cheese, until they are melted into the sauce.
- Add in pasta and shrimp. Garnish with remaining green parts of green onions. Serve immediately.
- Jerk seasoning can be spicy, so if you’re sensitive to heat, look for a variety labeled "mild."
- Try the same recipe with chicken, or go meatless like the original.
- For a dairy-free option, replace the cream with coconut cream. Chill a can of coconut milk in the fridge. Then, without shaking the can, open it and skim the cream from the top of the can.
- Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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