Rasta Pasta Recipe | How to Cook a Jamaican-Style Pasta Dish at Home

Embark on a culinary journey to the Caribbean with the sensational Rasta Pasta recipe—a tantalizing fusion of Italian pasta infused with the spirited flavors of Jamaican jerk spices, harmonized with a medley of vibrant red, yellow, and green bell peppers.

Rasta Pasta Recipe
Rasta Pasta Recipe | How to Cook a Jamaican-Style Pasta Dish at Home

Within this comprehensive manual, discover the secrets to crafting the perfect Rasta Pasta in the comfort of your own kitchen. Uncover the historical roots of this dish, delve into precise ingredient insights sourced from credible outlets, follow step-by-step instructions for a flawless preparation, and gain invaluable tips on storage, reheating, and FAQs.

Additionally, explore ingenious variations of this classic recipe that pack a nutritious punch with added veggies. Let's dive into the world of flavors!

Unraveling the Origins of Rasta Pasta

The fusion of Italian essence with Jamaican vibes in the Rasta Pasta recipe sparks curiosity about its true origins. While its genesis remains shrouded in mystery, tales suggest Jamaican Rastafarians ingeniously merged Italian elements to create a simple, soulful one-pot meal, symbolizing their cultural spirit through the vivid red, yellow, and green hues reminiscent of the Rastafarian flag.

Contrasting narratives attribute the birth of this budget-friendly pasta to American college students and bloggers during the 2000s. Regardless of its inception tale, this distinctive pasta boasting Caribbean flair has evolved into a beloved staple, inviting effortless replication in home kitchens.

Essential Rasta Pasta Recipe Ingredients

From proteins to vegetables and spices, here's your definitive checklist for the authentic Rasta Pasta recipe:

Proteins and Starches

  • Pasta - opt for compact shapes like penne, rotini, or farfalle
  • Chicken - boneless, skinless breasts or thighs
  • Bacon - choose from turkey or pork variants
  • Shrimp - ensure they're thawed if previously frozen


  • Red, yellow, and green bell peppers
  • Onion
  • Garlic

Flavor Enhancers

  • Coconut milk - whether light or full-fat
  • Jerk seasoning
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Parmesan cheese

Let's explore each ingredient in detail to guide your shopping experience.

Pasta Selection Tips

For hearty sauces, opt for semolina or durum wheat pasta like penne, rotini, or farfalle—they hold up well. Consider gluten-free options such as corn or rice pasta when necessary. Trusted brands like Barilla, Ronzoni, or Bionaturae ensure top-notch quality.

Chicken Criteria

Choose USDA-certified organic chicken from reputable brands like Bell & Evans, Wild Planet, or Applegate Organics to ensure ethical, antibiotic- and hormone-free rearing. Both skinless, boneless breasts and thighs are excellent choices.

Bacon Bits

Look for uncured turkey or pork bacon without nitrites or nitrates from brands like Applegate, Wellshire Farms, or Oscar Mayer for flavorful options without questionable additives.

Sourcing  Shrimp

If opting for frozen shrimp, refer to guidelines from Seafood Watch to source sustainably caught, chemical-free varieties. Quality selections can often be found at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market.

Veggie Picks

The trio of red, yellow, and green bell peppers not only adds flavor but also vibrant colors. Choose peppers with smooth, firm skin, devoid of shriveling or soft spots for maximum freshness and nutrients. Garlic and onions form a fragrant base—opt for official organic produce when available.

Jerk Seasoning

Infuse Caribbean heat and spices into your dish with jerk seasoning. Trusted brands like Spice Hunter, Badia, or Walkerswood provide authentic flavor without additives like MSG. Adjust to your preferred level of heat or try making your own blend.

Finishing Touches

Incorporate rich elements such as full-fat coconut milk, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, and sea salt. Opt for virgin, unrefined versions of coconut oil and olive oil for superior quality.

Essential Kitchen Gear

Before diving into cooking, ensure you have these essential kitchen tools ready:

  1. Cutting board & chef’s knife
  2. Mixing bowls
  3. Large pot with lid
  4. Wooden spoon & rubber spatula
  5. Colander/strainer
  6. Measuring cups & spoons
  7. Grater

Step-by-Step Guide

Rasta Pasta Recipe

Let's dive into crafting this Caribbean-infused one-pot pasta extravaganza! Here’s the simple process for preparing rasta pasta in your own kitchen:

Step 1

Prepare Ingredients

Dice the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Slice the bacon thinly. If using frozen shrimp, rinse them thoroughly. Seed and chop the bell peppers. Mince the garlic cloves after peeling and rinsing them. Slice the onion into thin half-moons. Grate the parmesan cheese.

Step 2

Sauté the Vegetables

In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the onions for 1 minute, then add the peppers and garlic. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes until they soften.

Step 3

Brown Meats

Push the sautéed veggies to the pot's edges and place the chicken in the center. Sprinkle with jerk seasoning. Cook and stir for about 3 minutes until the chicken lightly browns.

Step 4

Cook the Pasta

Incorporate the dry pasta into the mix, ensuring even distribution. Pour in 4 cups of water and cover the pot with a lid. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Let it simmer for 10-12 minutes, occasionally stirring.

Step 5

Integrate the Coconut Milk

Once the pasta reaches an al dente texture and the liquid thickens slightly, remove the lid. Pour in a 13.5 oz can of full-fat coconut milk and gently stir. Replace the lid and remove the pot from heat, allowing the residual heat to warm the dish through.

Step 6

Final Touches & Serving

Remove the lid again. If the mixture is too thick, gradually stir in small amounts of water until achieving the desired consistency. Gently fold in the shrimp until they turn pink. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to suit your taste. Serve in bowls, garnishing with parmesan cheese and green onions if desired. Indulge in your island-inspired rasta pasta!

Storage and Reheating Strategies

Wondering what to do with leftover rasta pasta? These storage and reheating tips will come in handy:

  • Ensure the rasta pasta cools down entirely before storing.
  • Place it in airtight containers—glass or plastic—and store in the refrigerator for up to four days.
  • Before reheating, add a splash of water as the pasta tends to absorb liquid over time.
  • Gently reheat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until thoroughly warmed.
  • Adjust the consistency with extra milk or seasonings according to your preference.

Freezing Leftover Pasta

For extended frozen storage, prepare the rasta pasta as directed. Once cooled, divide it into individual portions freezer bags or containers, leaving a 1/2-inch space at the top. Flatten the bags to remove excess air and freeze for up to 2 months.

To reheat the frozen pasta, run the bag or container under cool water to loosen it. Then gently warm the pasta in a saucepan over medium-low heat, adding water or milk gradually until you achieve the desired consistency. Stir well and season to taste before serving if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rasta Pasta

If you're new to crafting this trendy pasta, you might have some lingering questions. Here are answers to the most common queries:

Is coconut milk a must in rasta pasta?

Indeed! Full-fat coconut milk forms the base of a traditional rasta pasta recipe. Its creamy texture and subtle sweetness perfectly complement the herbs and spices. Light coconut milk is a viable alternative.

Can I substitute jerk seasoning?

Absolutely! Experiment with cajun, Italian, or fajita seasoning to customize the flavor. Crafting your seasoning blend with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, thyme, allspice, and cayenne pepper is also an option.

What other protein alternatives work besides chicken?

For vegetarian options, load up on extra bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, or broccoli. Non-vegetarian alternatives include shrimp, diced tofu, or black beans. Ground turkey and pork sausage also serve as good substitutes.

Does rasta pasta truly require just one pot?

Indeed! The charm of this recipe lies in its one-pot preparation, enhancing flavors as the ingredients meld together. Start by cooking firmer veggies first, then add quicker-cooking ingredients. Introduce liquid to cook the pasta until al dente before combining everything.

Can I use gluten-free pasta?

Absolutely! Bite-sized gluten-free pasta makes a suitable substitute, but keep an eye on cooking times—they might vary. Consider lentil, chickpea, quinoa, or brown rice pasta alternatives, following package instructions. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

The Healthy Rasta Pasta Variations

For those craving the flavors of rasta pasta while aiming for a lighter meal, these veggie-centric variations are worth a try:

  • Opt for extra beans or chickpeas instead of chicken for a heartier, plant-based alternative.
  • Increase the vegetable quotient by adding spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, or zucchini noodles.
  • Boost the protein content with shelled edamame, organic tofu, or tuna.
  • Swap coconut milk for reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth to cut down on calories.
  • Incorporate nutritious greens like kale, arugula, or Swiss chard once the pasta is cooked.
  • Upgrade to whole grain or high-protein pasta choices.

Whichever variation you choose, rasta pasta offers a delightful way to sneak more veggies into your family's meals!

Delicious Jamaican-inspired Recipes

If the vibrant Caribbean flavors of rasta pasta have left you yearning for more island cuisine, consider exploring these dishes:

Jamaican jerk chicken, sweet plantain fritters, or the classic rice and peas are delightful options to enhance your culinary experience.

Alternatively, infuse a tropical twist into family favorites like Jamaican meat pies, curried goat stew, or ackee and saltfish. These island flavors beautifully complement tropical fruits such as mango, papaya, and pineapple.

Indulge in a summery rum punch or treat yourself to a refreshing frozen piña colada. 

Now, savor a generous bowl of pasta infused with coconut milk, radiating in red, yellow, and green hues. Enjoy the one-pot delight and have plenty for later. Stay cheerful, friends!"

Previous Post Next Post