Cajun Crawfish Pasta Recipe
Today I’ve got a great pasta recipe for you – a Cajun crawfish pasta recipe. Some of you may know I’m a Cajun girl at heart – raised in the wetlands of southern Lafourche Parish here in Louisiana. Literally, one of the edges of the earth. We love crawfish season down here, and while we love our classic crawfish preparations, I know a few home cooks who are always looking to expand their recipe collections for leftover boiled crawfish.
By the by, I’m actually going to be doing a demo at the French Market tomorrow (Sat. 3/9) with this recipe so I wanted to make sure it was live prior to that. This is going to be my first real demo. Wish me luck!!
So as I alluded to before, you can make this dish with either crawfish leftover from a boil or you can purchase a pack of pre-cooked, frozen crawfish tails at the grocery store. As long as they are domestic crawfish, you can’t go wrong. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT buy Chinese crawfish. They are a highly inferior product and their very existence in the market threatens our industry here. (A friendly PSA from a concerned Louisiana cook/citizen).
So let’s talk about the cooking method and key ingredients in this recipe. Frankly, to me this recipe scores high on the effort-to-final-delicious-product ratio scale. In just over 30 minutes, you’re eating a super tasty meal. I was pretty proud of myself for developing this one. *pats self on back*
The key flavor ingredients are the crawfish, tasso, and red bell pepper. The tomato, pasta, parmesan and mushroom also play prominent roles in rounding out the dish. The prep work for this recipe can be done while the pasta is boiling. If you’re lucky enough to have boiled pasta on hand already, this recipe will go that much faster for you.
So while you’re probably familiar with most of the ingredients here, let’s talk more about both crawfish and tasso. I’ll start with tasso since it’s probably the more obscure of the two ingredients. Tasso is made from pork shoulder that’s briefly cured then smoked. It’s flavored with various spices like salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika and typically a little brown sugar. It’s very common here in south Louisiana. If you’re not able to get tasso in your hometown, you can substitute spicy smoked sausage in this recipe. It’s not as tasty but will do in a pinch.
Now we can talk about crawfish. As I said earlier, we here in south Louisiana LOVE crawfish. It’s an affordable delicacy that pretty much everyone here goes crazy for. Crawfish season generally runs from late December into late May, with this time of year being the peak. Prices per pound can vary greatly depending on if you’re in the city or rural areas, or what time of year it is. Typically it’s more expensive earlier in the season (could be up to $4 uncooked) and drops after Good Friday (typically to around $1.25). Good Friday is by far the most crawfish filled day of the year here in south Louisiana. C’est bon!
Finally, I’ve intentionally made the cooking method for this recipe really easy. Once the butter’s melted, nearly all the ingredients besides the crawfish and pasta can be added to the pot. As you see below, I used a large, wide skillet but a pot works equally well (probably better – neater). The veggies and tasso cook down in the butter to create the base of the sauce for the pasta. When the crawfish are added, the provide more sauce and flavor. Once the dish is finished with the pasta, parmesan and parsley, you’ve got yourself a real meal.
It really is that easy. And if you don’t live in a place where you can get crawfish, you can use shrimp or chicken easily in this recipe. You’ll need to cook them before adding to the pasta dish as the directions indicate below but it can be done. Also, as I said, the tasso is also easily swapped out with spicy smoked sausage or andouille. In the end, with these substitutions the dish will be different but will still be a tasty pasta dish that you’re sure to enjoy.
Man, I’m getting hungry just typing this up… Let’s move on that recipe!
Cajun Crawfish Pasta Recipe
This Cajun crawfish pasta recipe is packed with flavor from the crawfish plus tasso, red bell pepper, parmesan cheese and tomatoes. It's quick, easy and delicious!
- 1 pound shaped pasta (elbow, cavatelli or something similar in size)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 2/3 cup diced tasso
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups crawfish tails
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley or chopped chives
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- If you don't have cooked noodles on hand already, cook the noodles and cool them before starting to cook the rest of the dish. Set aside for now. You can cook the noodles while prepping the remaining ingredients in the recipe and that should take about the same amount of time.
- In a medium-sized pot, melt the four tablespoons of butter over medium high heat.
- Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, tasso, red bell pepper, green onion, garlic, kosher salt and cayenne pepper. Stir well and cook about 5 minutes, until vegetables are softened.
- Stir in the crawfish tails and continue to cook another 3 minutes until crawfish tails are heated through.
- Add the pasta, parsley (or chives) and parmesan cheese to the pot. Stir well to incorporate all ingredients.
- Serve immediately. Tastes best with garlic bread on the side.