Here it is early September in South Louisiana, and crawfish season seems like a thing of the past. Backyard boils, Sunday etouffée and rural crawfish festivals are fixtures of spring, not fall. But let’s not be too hasty. One-pound packages of Louisiana crawfish tails are still available in many independent grocery stores in South Louisiana, and they should be around for another few weeks, says my friend Blaise Calandro III of Calandro’s Supermarkets here in Baton Rouge. In fact, it’s only between November and February when local tails are not commercially available.
So stock up for yourself Louisiana peeps, and freeze some for your out-of-state friends, because in addition to being full of flavor, crawfish tails are one of easiest and most convenient ingredients around, especially if you’re a working parent. I can attest. Earlier this week, I found myself trying to pull together dinner at the absolute last minute, and a pound of frozen crawfish tails saved me.
They’re convenient for so many reasons. Unlike shrimp, crawfish don’t have to be peeled. And unlike other proteins, they thaw super fast in running water. They require only minimal seasoning because of all that luscious crawfish fat. You don’t have to light the grill or preheat the oven to cook them through. All you need is a hot skillet and a little creativity.
This slightly creamy crawfish pasta is satisfying and elegant without being heavy. The tomatoes and fresh basil give it terrific freshness. Serve with a green salad and you’ve got a cozy, well-rounded dinner.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bell pepper, (preferably red, orange or yellow), chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 pound package Louisiana crawfish tails, with fat
¼ cup white wine
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound dried spaghetti
Grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil for garnish
Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add pepper and onion and cook about 3 minutes until soft. Add grape tomatoes and sauté for about one minute. Add crawfish tails and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until curled and cooked through. Add wine and let simmer for 2 minutes. Add cream and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off heat. Cook pasta to al dente, then remove from water and add to skillet with sauce. Toss well with tongs. If pasta needs more liquid, add a small amount of pasta water.
Serve immediately with fresh basil slivers.
And even though purists get the vapors if you combine seafood and parmesan cheese, a little grated parm is lovely on this dish.