My limited culinary experiences in Jamaica involved unforgettably delicious jerk chicken and shrimp, but no Rasta pasta. I assumed this was a strictly American invention until I saw how popular it was in Jamaican communities in New York and across the northeast on our visits there. Knowing this dish has a place at the table for Jamaican families piqued my interest in the flavorful pasta.
So my version of this deceptively simple pasta dish gets its spice from jerk seasoning and a single Scotch bonnet pepper, which we simply pierce and cook with the veggies, then remove before serving. The colorful bell peppers and green onions add texture and freshness to the dish. You could swap salmon for the grilled jerk shrimp or omit the seafood and make a vegetarian pasta entree.
The pasta shape is also open to modification. Penne pasta is the traditional shape for Rasta pasta, but I love rigatoni, so I tweaked this to my preference and you should feel free to do the same. If using a different shape, be sure to adjust your cooking time according to package directions. Refrigerate leftovers, and either reheat or eat them cold the next day. Like most pastas, this is a dish that gets better with a little time.
What you'll need to make this delicious shrimp rasta pasta recipe:
- rigatoni or other short tube pasta
- medium-large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
- Jamaican jerk seasoning
- smoked paprika
- black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- green onion
- green bell pepper
- red bell pepper
- yellow bell pepper
- scotch bonnet pepper, optional
- garlic cloves
- veggie or shrimp stock
- heavy cream
- parmesan cheese
- fresh thyme, optional
(full measurements included in the printable recipe card below.)
Step by step instructions for jerk shrimp pasta:
To begin, cook dried pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions, reserve ½ cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta, rinse, and set aside.
While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the cleaned and deveined shrimp, and 1 tablespoon jerk seasoning. Sauté until just cooked through - about 3-4 minutes. Remove shrimp from pan and return the pan to heat.
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, diced green, red and yellow bell peppers, along with ½ teaspoon of black pepper and the sprig of thyme, if using. Cook for about 3 minutes, until vegetables are softened.
Reduce heat to medium and add diced green onions, garlic, and one pierced scotch bonnet pepper and cook another 2 minutes.
Pour stock, heavy cream and jerk seasoning to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes, tossing to coat all of the vegetables.
Remove thyme and scotch bonnet pepper.
Add the al dente cooked pasta into the pan and toss to coat, heating the pasta through. Then add the parmesan cheese. Toss gently to coat.
Taste and adjust seasoning. Add a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water if you want a saucier dish.
Top the pasta with jerk-spiced shrimp. Serve with diced scallions, additional grated parmesan and a sprinkle of jerk seasoning.
FAQs and serving suggestions for Jamaican Rasta Pasta with Shrimp:
Jerk-spiced salmon fillets or chunks would be a lovely addition to the top of this easy Rasta Pasta recipe. If you're cooking for non-pescatarians, jerk-rubbed chicken breasts grilled and sliced over the pasta would be the perfect dinner on a busy weeknight.
With the pepper-to-pasta ratio being just about even, you could consider this a one-pan dinner. But if you're looking for a fresh vegetable side, Mediterranean Tossed Salad would add just the fresh, tangy crunch that you're looking for.
You sure can. Opt for vegan parmesan and vegetable broth, then use coconut milk in place of the heavy whipping cream. All are common modifications to this classic Jamaican dish.
This recipe produces a flavorful, but not super spicy dish. Most varieties of jerk seasoning carry some form of red pepper, but it is not overwhelming. So if you're looking to turn up the heat, dice two scotch bonnet peppers and add them to the pan of sauteed bell peppers. A half teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes would also give you a spicy dish.
To store, transfer to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, pop in microwave with a few tablespoons of stock (or in small saucepan) and heat until warmed through.
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Check out some of our other delicious seafood pasta recipes :Print