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You Asked For It


Red Rocks pasta has a secret ingredient

By Robin Domeier
You Asked For It
Restaurant writer Robin Domeier tracks down Charlotte restaurant recipes that readers have requested. Domeier is owner of Nibbles Personal Chef.
Chicken Cajun Pasta (now named for Eugene Robinson) from Red Rocks Café Bar & Bakery.

More Information

  • Red Rocks

    Café Bar & Bakery

    Charlotte: 4223-B Providence Road in Strawberry Hill. 704-364-0402.

    Huntersville: 8712 Lindholm Drive in Birkdale Village. 704-892-9999.

  • Eugene Robinson’s Chicken Cajun Pasta

    From Red Rocks Cafe. The Cajun pasta used to be called Salamone’s, but was recently renamed.

    2 tablespoons canola oil

    5 ounces diced marinated chicken breast

    1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper

    1/3 cup thinly sliced red and green peppers

    1/4 cup sliced yellow onion

    1 teaspoon Cajun spice

    1 teaspoon crushed garlic

    1/4 cup diced tomatoes

    1/4 cup diced andouille sausage

    Splash of dry white wine

    6 ounces heavy cream

    1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

    8 ounces cooked penne pasta

    1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

    HEAT a sauté pan over medium-high heat, then add the oil. Add the marinated chicken and stir (or shake if you feel confident) constantly until the chicken is seared on all sides.

    ADD salt, pepper, red and green peppers and onions and cook until the vegetables just soften.

    ADD Cajun spice, garlic, tomatoes and andouille. Cook for about 30 seconds, then remove the pan from heat and add the wine, stirring up anything stuck to the pan. Return the pan to the heat and let the wine cook away almost entirely.

    POUR in the heavy cream and stir all the ingredients together. Cook until the cream is hot and begins to just thicken.

    STIR in the Romano cheese and penne. The cheese will melt and thicken the sauce a little more. Once the cheese is melted, pour the pasta into a serving bowl and top with Parmesan.

    Yield: 2 servings.

  • Want a recipe?

    Are you looking for a recipe from a Charlotte-area restaurant that is currently in business? Send your requests to Robin Domeier, Please include your name, why you like the recipe, the area where you live and the restaurant’s location.

A common lament from readers who send requests for restaurant recipes is that they’ve tried to reproduce their favorite dish, but end up with something that’s not the same as what they ate.

That was the case for Jennie Loyd. She’s been trying to make Salamone’s Chicken Cajun Pasta (now named for Eugene Robinson) from Red Rocks Café Bar & Bakery.

“There is a heat to the sauce that I’ve tried to re-create time and time again. I just can't quite get it.”

Restaurants do have their secret ingredients – and Red Rocks is no different. In this case, the “it” that has been eluding Loyd is 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning. It fires up the cream-based sauce that coats the pasta and leaves a little tingle on the back of the tongue.

Whether you buy premarinated chicken breasts or do it yourself, make sure the marinade is mild, such as an Italian herb marinade.

The dish comes together fairly quickly, so have all the ingredients ready to go. Turn on your kitchen ventilation, as the smell from the Cajun spices can become quite strong. Finally, you can personalize this dish. Substitute shrimp for chicken, tasso ham for the andouille sausage or use different pastas or onions.

Robin Domeier is the owner of Nibbles Personal Chef.

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