Make a simple and comforting one-pot Creamy Jamaican Shrimp Rasta Pasta for a weeknight dinner with fire-y jerk seasoning and thick, cheesy sauce. Dairy-free + Vegan options.
Regardless of the weather or time of year, I'm always happy to sit down to a comforting dinner of pasta in a creamy sauce. And this recipe for this Creamy Jamaican Shrimp Rasta Pasta is especially close to home, thanks to the traditional jerk seasoning. Plump, juicy shrimp add light and healthy protein and extra seafood flavor. This Creamy Jamaican Rasta Pasta is a great vegan option for those who need something dairy-free and meatless.
Despite its creamy, cheesy sauce, this pasta dish is just as appropriate or cold weather eating as it is in the middle of summer, thanks to the delicate shrimp and the bright jerk flavors.
What is Rasta Pasta?
Basically, rasta pasta in the Jamaican culture is made from jerk seasoning, bell peppers, cream, and pasta. The colors from the dish originally reflected the colors of the Rastafarian culture: red, green, and yellow, which prompted someone to call it "rasta pasta".
However, today, most rasta pasta dishes now reflect the Jamaican flag colors: yellow pasta, blackened jerk chicken, green bell peppers, and fresh herbs (cilantro or parsley).
How to Make Creamy Jamaican Shrimp Rasta Pasta
Start making this recipe by boiling your pasta. In the meantime, you sauté your seasoned shrimp and make your creamy sauce by sautéing a few garlic cloves, and then adding in the seasoning, heavy cream, chicken or seafood stock, and white cooking wine. Assemble everything together, stir, simmer, and wallah!
Can I Use a Jerk Marinade Instead?
Absolutely! In jerk sauce or marinade, the 3 main ingredients that MUST be present are: scotch bonnet, thyme, and allspice (aka pimento seeds). You can't remove any of these ingredients or else it wouldn't be considered "jerk". To see the recipe for a jerk marinade, see my Baked Jamaican Pineapple Jerk Chicken.
Homemade Jerk Seasoning
To make your own jerk seasoning dry rub, you'll need the following:
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
Here's what you need to know about the key ingredients in the Creamy Jamaican Shrimp Rasta Pasta:
Rigatoni pasta. Feel free to use a different pasta shape if you have it on hand. Take note of the different cooking time for longer or larger pasta shapes.
Colossal shrimp. I love to use the biggest, meatiest shrimp I can find. They also cook more slowly, which means I'm less likely to overcook them.
Chicken stock. Choose low-sodium chicken stock so you can control the saltiness of the dish. And if you're a pescatarian, you can substitute the chicken stock for seafood or vegetable stock.
Mild cheddar cheese. This adds a bit of sharpness to the cheese sauce. If you like a stronger cheddar flavor, you can use sharp cheddar. For an even more mild flavor, use shredded Swiss cheese.
Jerk seasoning. You can find store-bought jerk seasoning for a shortcut. But if you have a well-stocked spice cabinet, you probably already have the dried seasonings you need to make your own jerk spice. The flavors in jerk seasoning include onion, garlic, allspice, parsley, and brown sugar for sweetness.
What Are Delicious Foods to Pair This Rasta Pasta With?
With most pasta dishes, I often enjoy them with a side of bread of some sort. Most times, I make my own homemade Garlic Bread, however, you can choose to spruce things up with many other options such as:
A delicious Salad
What Other Meats Work for this Rasta Pasta
For this specific recipe, I chose to use shrimp, however, there are so many options that can help to elevate this entire Creamy Jamaican Shrimp Rasta Pasta outside of shrimp based on the use of any of the following:
Fish (fried, jerked, grilled, etc.)
Tofu or tempeh
Grilled or roasted veggies (like broccoli, asparagus, etc.)
Storing Leftover Jamaican Shrimp Rasta Pasta
Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
Can I Make This Shrimp Rasta Pasta Vegan and/or Gluten-Free?
Absolutely! To make this sauce dairy-free, simply swap the heavy cream with full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream. And use your favorite dairy-free shredded cheese or nutritional yeast instead of parmesan. For a vegan version, see my Creamy Jamaican Rasta Pasta recipe!
If you choose to make this Creamy Jamaican Shrimp Rasta Pasta or any other recipe from us, be sure to tag us on Instagram at #Orchidsandsweettea so that we can share the love, rate, comment below, + share!
1(16 oz.) packageorganic penne or rigatoni pasta(You can use your fave pasta shape/type; See Notes for GF option.)
1tablespoonExtra virgin olive oil
2lbs.wild-caught colossal shrimp, deveined
2bell peppers, chopped(You can use red, yellow, or green; Feel free to mix the colors)
2Tbspsunsalted butter, for cooking
1tablespoonExtra virgin olive oil
3garlic cloves, minced
1-2Tbspsorganic all-purpose flour
2cupsorganic heavy cream
½cupchicken or seafood stock, low-sodium(You can also use vegetable stock, if desired)
2Tbspswhite cooking wine
1cupfreshly-grated parmesan cheese
1cupshredded thick-cut mild cheddar
HOMEMADE JERK SEASONING:
1teaspoonsea salt + black pepper
½teaspoonred pepper flakes
BOIL THE PASTA:
To begin, cook pasta according to packaging. NOTE: penne pasta doesn’t take a long time to cook, usually 8-10 minutes (however, you should cook at 6-8 minutes or so—‘al dente’).
SEASON THE SHRIMP:
In a bowl, mix together the shrimp and salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, parsley, and garlic powder, until fully coated. Set aside.
SAUTE THE SHRIMP:
In a medium 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 Tbsps butter until melted. Add in the shrimp and cook on both sides (about 3-4 minutes), until pink and cook through. Once done, remove from skillet and set aside on a plate.
TO MAKE THE SAUCE:
In a large (12-inch) skillet, add the olive oil, butter, and minced garlic, sautéing until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the jerk seasoning, and flour, stirring everything together. Whisk in the heavy cream, chicken or seafood stock, and white cooking wine until everything thickens and becomes smooth with no lumps visible. Add in the chopped bell peppers and stir to incorporate.
Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 4-5 minutes until it thickens more and the peppers become more tender. Stir in the grated parmesan and mild cheddar until they have melted and the sauce is even more creamy.
Add in the cooked drained pasta and stir until everything is well coated.
Remove from heat and serve immediately and garnish with chopped scallions, if desired.
Tips & Tricks
STORAGE: Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
SPICES/HERBS: If desired, you can reduce the amounts slightly. Please know that this recipe is bold in flavor, so feel free to adjust based on your tastebuds.
GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: To make this dish GF, simply use Gluten-Free pasta and ensure that all other ingredients are GF-friendly.
DAIRY-FREE + VEGAN OPTION: To make this sauce dairy-free, simply swap the heavy cream with full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream. And use your favorite dairy-free shredded cheese or nutritional yeast instead of parmesan. For a vegan version, see my Creamy Jamaican Rasta Pasta recipe!
PASTA: You can use any of your favorite pastas! Jumbo shells or long pastas like Pappardelle, Fettuccine, etc. work fine. However, I would recommend tossing with tongs to ensure that pasta is fully manageable and fully coated. Otherwise, the traditional penne or rigatoni pasta works perfectly too!