If you’re looking for new ways to enjoy pasta, today’s Rasta pasta recipe is for you. This unique pasta dish uses penne, chicken breast, and all three types of bell peppers, making it a colorful and delish main course.
Let’s have a look at Rasta pasta’s origin, its ingredients, and how you can tweak it to suit your taste.
What Is Rasta Pasta?
Rasta pasta is a product of fusion food between two contrasting cuisines: Caribbean and Italian. The pasta, cheese, and creamy sauce represent the Italian touch to this dish, while the seasoning and bell peppers are what earn the dish its name.
This dish originated in Jamaica, where chef Lorraine Washington made this dish for a group of construction workers. They realized that the tricolor bell peppers resembled the Rasta colors (red, green, and yellow), hence the name Rasta pasta.
This dish is suitable if you are following a weight loss plan because it contains 503 calories and 10.1 g of saturated fat per serving.
We also choose our main ingredients and seasoning to maintain a moderate level of sugar and sodium, which are 4.5 g and 541.8 mg respectively.
Chicken provides 31 g of protein in this pasta dish. The high protein content promotes muscle health. However, raw or undercooked chicken may cause food poisoning, so it is vital that you cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F.
Bell peppers contain a lot of carotenoids, which support eye health. Furthermore, they are an excellent source of vitamin C, which contributes to supporting the immune system.
Rasta Pasta Ingredients
Chicken: Jerk chicken is one of the most popular dishes throughout the Caribbean, so our choice for this Caribbean-themed recipe is skinless and boneless chicken breasts.
It is a lean and versatile cut that can be juicy and flavorful if cooked right and paired with flavorful seasonings.
Pasta: Penne pasta works well with creamy sauces, thanks to its hollow shape.
Seasoning: Seasoning is what sets this dish apart from other pasta versions all around the world. Most commonly used seasonings include salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning, and paprika. Jerk seasoning is warm and spicy, which is the signature flavor profile of this Caribbean blend.
Sauce: The base of this sauce is a blend of unsalted chicken broth, milk, and heavy cream. With such a flavorful set of ingredients, this sauce is deliciously smooth and creamy. We also add all-purpose flour to help it thicken.
Vegetables: The tricolor bell peppers are the most iconic ingredients of Rasta pasta. The flavor base of this dish is caramelized onions and garlic, an age-old combination. We top it all off with some parsley and scallions.
Substitutes for the meat: Jerk seasoning and chicken are a match made in heaven. However, shrimp, pork, or sausage are all great options for this pasta.
Make it vegan or vegetarian: The signature ingredients of Rasta pasta are bell peppers and the seasoning, so you can omit the protein altogether. You can also take it a step further and make it vegan, which means removing the cheese. We recommend using vegetable broth and vegan cream in place of chicken broth and heavy cream, respectively.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Rasta pasta will stay in good condition in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in airtight containers. We don’t recommend freezing this pasta because the creamy sauce may break in the freezer.
Using the microwave, you can reheat this pasta for a few minutes until warm. We prefer reheating it on a skillet on medium-high heat. Remember to add a bit of heavy cream if you find the pasta has absorbed too much sauce and made the dish dry.
What to Serve With Rasta Pasta
We recommend the refreshing combo of a salad and a beverage to accompany this special pasta dish.
Cube the chicken: Don’t rinse raw chicken under running water because bacteria on the chicken can spread to other surfaces. Slice the chicken breasts against the grain into large slices, then cut those slices crosswise into cubes.
Boil the pasta: Boil the pasta until al dente. Simply cook for 1 minute less than the package instructions, then bite into it. If it is chewy but tender, it’s good to go.
Cut the bell peppers: Slice 1/2 inch off the top and bottom of the peppers. Cut through the flesh, open the peppers, and use your knife to discard the core. Lay the halves skin-side down and cut into strips into desired thickness.
Mince the onions: Cut the onions in half and lay a half cut-side down on the cutting board. Slice vertically across the onion but do not cut off the root. Turn the onion 90 degrees and cut crosswise. Continue chopping with a rocking motion until the onion is minced.
Mince the garlic: Separate cloves of garlic from the bulb. Peel the skin and cut off the root. Give the cloves a rough chop, then continue chopping with a rocking motion until it’s minced.
Chop the scallions: Cut off the root end and line up the scallions. Thinly slice the green part with your knife.
Chop the parsley: Bunch the parsley into a small mound and chop finely.
Saute the chicken: Place a pan on medium heat until it’s hot. Add 2 tbsp olive oil, 12 oz chicken breasts, 1/2 tsp paprika, and 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning. Stir for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Saute the bell peppers: Add 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 tbsp garlic, and 2 oz onion and stir for 1 minute. Add 6 oz bell peppers (all three colors) and stir for another 2 minutes.
Make the sauce: Add 1 cup unsalted chicken broth, 1/2 cup milk, and 4 1/2 tbsp heavy cream.
Add the seasonings: Sprinkle 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 1/2 tsp Jerk seasoning, and 1/2 tsp paprika. Stir until combined.
Cook the ingredients together: Add 15 oz cooked penne pasta, chicken, and 0.5 oz shredded parmesan cheese. Cook for 3 minutes.
Serve: Sprinkle 0.5 oz parmesan, 2 tbsp parsley, and 2 tbsp scallions on top. Enjoy.
How to Make Rasta Pasta
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 503Calories from Fat 215
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 10.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Vitamin A 1062IU
Vitamin C 60mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
SaVanna Shoemaker is a registered dietitian and freelance health and wellness writer. She’s passionate about whole food-based eating and holistic nutrition, and uses her platform to help people embrace real food and reduce their sugar and processed food intake. Her work has appeared on Healthline, Greatist, Livestrong, Verywell Health, and more. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, reading, cooking, and weight lifting.
Love the fusion of Caribbean and Italian flavors in this Rasta Pasta recipe!