Finishing up my Crawfish/Festival theme is a sinfully delicious Crawfish pasta. It all started with the Crawfish and Spinach boat, a very popular dish at Festival International. Unlike those mutant people who can eat heavy foods while walking around in the heat all day, my stomach is not a fan of this behavior. So I needed a way to enjoy the flavors without a chorus of unsettling noises reverberating from my stomach. The bread bowl it comes in is pretty but not really feasible when you feeding a family of 5. So I replaced a carb with a carb, fettucini popped in my head. Then I realized that the original dish is similar to the classic Southern dish Spinach Madeline and also along the lines of another staple dish here Crawfish fettucini. My description of this pasta is its as if Crawfish fettucini and Spinach Madeline had a torrid affair and this is the resulting love child. I added mushrooms because well I love mushrooms. A lot of recipes I researched had cream of mushroom soup, I am not a big fan of most canned soups. I don’t know if it’s the added preservatives or the gray gelatinous blob that comes sliding out the can. I’m very visually, texturally and smell sensitive to food, so this gray vomit-like substance that makes a disturbing slurpy noise when extracted disturbs all my senses. Believe me, I’m not judging you for using them, I know I am the proud owner of special kind of crazy. To even out my healthier alternative and be mildly hypocritical I used Velveeta as one of the cheeses. I know, I know there is a lot of hate for Velveeta and it’s shunned by many a professional chef. Luckily I’m not a professional chef so I can do what I want. Judge me all you want I lost most of my shame in my early twenties.Crawfish Fettucini is huge here and almost all of us grew up eating it with processed cheese in it, I have even heard highly acclaimed local chefs admit its just not the same without it. For a long time, we used the Kraft garlic cheese roll that sadly is no longer available if anybody has a connection to this on the black market you could make a fortune in Acadiana. ( Shh I have found a recipe to re-create it). So here it is folks, the love child of two Southern classics becoming one. The indication that it was gone within minutes at Sunday Supper is a strong sign it’s a keeper.
I’ve covered most of them above so just a few notes here. I use fresh spinach because I prefer it. If you use frozen please make sure to squeeze all the liquid out of it. The excess liquid can ruin your dish instantly. The protein in this is very versatile. You can sub shrimp or chicken, now if you do remember the crawfish is already cooked so you will need to cook any other proteins ahead of time and set aside till ready to add. You will see I put heavy cream of half & half. I am a big fan of everything dairy so heavy cream is a guilty pleasure of mine. If you want a lighter sauce use half & half.The cooking time is not long enough to cook the proteins thoroughly in the original recipe. Remember to prep all the ingredients ahead of time this recipe comes together rather quickly and is time sensitive.
Pasta and sauce
Set a large pot of water to boil, making sure the pasta is fully submerged in the water. Once boiling add pasta and gently stir occasionally to keep the pasta from becoming a stuck together clump. Once al dente ( done but has a little bite to it) remove and drain. Set aside to add later.
Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. I use enameled-coated cast iron for cream based dishes. I love my cast iron but it can lend an unfortunate color sometimes to light colored dishes. A nonstick skillet will also do if you don’t want to break the bank on enameled cast iron( always pick up any enameled cast iron you see in thrift stores, you will never regret it). Once the butter is melted, be careful to not let it brown, add the finely diced onions. Cook till translucent, once done add the garlic and cook until fragrant about 1-2 minutes.
Add sliced mushrooms and cooked till soft and their liquid has evaporated. Add fresh spinach and cook till wilted and most of the spinach liquor has evaporated (ever wonder why spinach and oysters juices are only referred as liquor?)
Sprinkle flour and top and continuously stir until incorporated and then flour taste is gone about 3 minutes.
Very slowly add cream or half & half, stir gently and continuously to prevent lumps.
Add seasoning and stir till fully combined. I add some fresh ground black pepper at this point since we are big fans of black pepper.
Add the crawfish with the fat stir and cook till heated through the mixture thickens slightly. This will happen fast so this is not the time for a break, its eagle eye time.
Add Velveeta, parmesan, and sour cream. Turn heat to low and gently stir till all cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour this mixture over the pasta in a large bowl or pot and gently fold ingredients are combined. You can do individual servings but I like to mix it all together to prevent the seafood hoarders from loading up on the Crawfish, this is a common problem in my house. My middle child has no shame stealing all the crawfish leaving the rest of us to fight over the pitiful few left.
Once done sprinkle with green onions and serve.
16 oz package of fettuccini noodle
I stick of butter(yes a whole stick, this recipe is not for the faint of heart)
I small yellow onion finely diced
6 garlic cloves minced
One 8 oz container of fresh mushrooms sliced
One 10 oz bag of fresh spinach
3 tablespoons of flour
3 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 lb of crawfish tails
¾ cup heavy cream or half & half ( have more ready for thinning of sauce if needed)
⅔ cup freshly grated parmesan
4 oz Mexican Velveeta
½ cup of sour cream
¼ cup chopped green onions
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente stirring occasionally. Strain and set aside.
Melt butter in large skillet being careful not to let it brown.
Add onions and cook until translucent,4-5 minutes
Add garlic and cook until fragrant,1-2 minutes.
Add mushrooms and cook till soft and their liquid has evaporated.
Add spinach and cook till wilted and most of the spinach liquor has evaporated.
Sprinkle flour over the mixture and stir continuously to incorporate and cook off the raw flour taste,2-3 minutes. It shouldn't brown and remain light colored.
Slowly pour in cream or half&half while continuously stirring to prevent lumps.
Add seasoning and fresh black pepper to taste. Stir till combined.
Add Crawfish with fat and cook till heated through and the mixture thickens slightly. Add more cream or half&half if the mixture is too thick.
Add Velveeta, parmesan and sour cream. Turn heat to low and gently stir till the cheese is completely melted and smooth.
Once done, pour over pasta in a large bowl or pot. Fold ingredients together until combined.
Sprinkle green onions on top and serve.
*If mixture seems too thick add more cream or half&half, make sure to do this before pouring over the pasta.