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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tiger Tail Pasta

Those of you in the South know that our beloved LSU Tigers are all about some great bayou seafood.  This super easy crawfish pasta is just the ticket for the kick off of football season - whether it be a tailgating party on the grounds of the stadium, or family and friends gathered around your living room coffee table.  Seafood can be on the pricey side, but pairing it with pasta really stretches your buck to feed a crowd.  In our part of the country, spicy food is frequently the norm; so feel free to adjust the heat if you are... ahem.... a Northerner (whispered).  

I attempted to find the origin of this recipe - one that my cousin has been known to bring to family reunions.  But it turns out that it has been passed around and around, without a clear owner.  I tweaked hers a little to the palate of my family, and this is the result. Creamy, a bit spicy, overflowing with big Cajun flavors and my beloved pasta.  How could this be wrong?  *If you are allergic or opposed to shellfish, this would be great made with cooked chicken.

Don't let the long list of ingredients deter you.  Most of these vegetables are seasoning that I routinely keep chopped and frozen in zip top bags in the freezer.  The frozen veggies actually break down and cook much quicker than the fresh ones; and that makes this dish a snap to throw together. The end result is nothing short of sinful - in a good way!  A creamy and flavorful, medium bodied cream sauce that plays the Cajun spices against the sweet sauteed vegetables.  Tender nuggets of the delicate seafood along with the al dente pasta.  Yum.  For the perfect wine pairing for this dish, continue reading until the end of the post.

  • 1 lb farfalle (commonly known as "bowtie pasta") 
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine 
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped fine 
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped fine 
  • ½ orange bell pepper, chopped fine 
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, chopped fine 
  • 2 -3 cloves garlic, minced fine (about 1 Tbsp) 
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped 
  • 2 lbs peeled and cleaned crawfish tails (feel free to use the frozen ones in the supermarket) 
  • 1 ½ cup of pepper jack cheeses, shredded 
  • 1 ½ cup of three cheese blend (Monterey jack, Colby, Cheddar cheese with cream cheese), shredded
  • ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese + extra for garnish
  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 2 Tbsp cajun seasoning (Tony Chachere's) 
  • ½ cup of chicken broth 
Step by Step -
We thawed, then TRIPLE rinsed the crawfish tails until the water ran clear.
Washing your crawfish seems to be a hotbed of contention among my readers.  Many feel you should not rinse them.  Let me again reiterate that this is a personal choice.  If you want all the flavor of the fat, don't rinse.  If you are like me and bristle at the smell when you first open that package, then be guest to rinse them. 

If you live in an area where you can not find local, Louisiana crawfish.  You can purchase them online at and they will ship them to you.

Melt 1/2 cup butter (8 Tbsp) in a heavy pan.
Saute onions, celery, chopped peppers in the melted butter until soft and translucent.
Add 2-3 chopped garlic cloves (1 Tbsp) and cook another 3-4 minutes.

While vegetables are cooking, start the noodles boiling according to package directions (6-7 minutes)

To the cooked vegetables, add the 2 Tbsp Creole or Cajun seasoning.  Careful.  There is quite a bit of heat in here.

Add 2 cups heavy cream.
Add 1/2 cup chicken broth.
Add 1 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese.

Add 1 1/2 cup three cheese blend.
Add the chopped green onions.

Add the cleaned crawfish tails and cook another 6-7 minutes.

Rinse the cooked pasta so it won't stick together, and set aside.

Combine the pasta and the crawfish mixture.

Fold in 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Add the crawfish pasta to a greased casserole dish.  Add extra Parmesan cheese to the top.
I finished it off with a little extra black pepper.

Tent the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Serve with something yummy!

Written Directions:
  • Boil pasta, strain, rinse and set aside.  Pre-Heat oven to 350 Degrees. 
  • Melt butter in heavy bottomed pot, then saute onions, celery, & peppers in butter until tender.  
  • Add garlic & cook for about 3-4 minutes.   
  • Add Cajun seasoning, heavy cream, and chicken broth – stir until sauce is hot (do not boil).   
  • Add green onions cook an additional minute.    
  • Stir in pepper jack and three cheese blend, and stir until melted and blended into sauce.     
  • Add crawfish to sauce and cook 5-7 minutes on medium low heat.     Remove pot from heat.      
  • Fold pasta and Parmesan cheese into sauce mixture.      
  • Transfer pasta and sauce into a greased baking dish.      
  • Sprinkle additional Parmesan over pasta and loosely cover with foil.      
  • Bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes – Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Order the Menu Musings Cookbook!
Looking for more great recipes from my blog?
Please visit my Recipe Index for tons of ideas that you can cook with/for your family.  Here are just a few to get you started:
Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne

Ricotta Pizza with Fresh and Roasted Tomatoes
Skinny Mexican Pizza
Steamed Asian Dumplings
Double Chocolate Pecan Pie

For the perfect wine pairing to compliment this dish,  I consulted Carl van Coppenhagen, my local expert.  Carl selected two perfectly balanced whites for this dish (yes, I made him try some)...
Thanks, Carl... You never steer us wrong!!  Click Here to find Carl's Wine & Spirits

1 - Domaine Pichot Vouvray - (a Chenin Blanc from France) Pichot Vouvray is a benchmark for the region, golden delicious apple, plum, and pineapple aromatics with bright acid and a lingering finish. 

2 - Cortese di Gavi.  Also simply known as Gavi - an Italian white wine produced in a restricted area of the Province of Alessandria, Piedmont, in Northern Italy.  

The "story" of this wine is quite interesting, so I'll include it here... 

Once upon a time, around the 5th century, there was a beautiful, fair princessa named Gavia. She was the daughter of Clodimir, King of the Franks (son of Clovis I). Long before anyone knew what Stockholm Syndrome was, she fell in love with one of her guards, and he asked for her hand in marriage. When they asked Clodimir’s permission, he forbade the marriage, saying it was beneath her class to marry him. But they were hopelessly in love, so they went to whatever the French Medieval equivalent of Vegas was, and, because this is a fairy tale after all, were able to cross the Alps and settle in a remote location in a tiny village on the fringes of the kingdom, in what is now Italy. They eluded the king’s troops for a long time. But one night, Gavia’s new husband, under the influence of this local nectar, let it slip who they were to an innkeeper. But the king meanwhile, had been told to forgive his daughter, and once they were reunited, he couldn’t help but gaze into her eyes, brim with adoration and give his blessing to the union. As a wedding present, he bestowed the happy couple the whole town. He named it, and the delicious wine that brought them back together, Gavi. And they lived happily ever after, even as raging alcoholics. 
Whether or not the legend, or facets of it, are true, this is a wine that has been produced in the region for many centuries. It is made exclusively from the Cortese grape, hence why it is also sometimes referred to as Cortese di Gavi. It became a DOC in 1974, and was elevated to DOCG classification in 1998. The wine must be produced in the province of Allesandria, adjacent to Liguria, and is restricted to the following communes: Bosio, Capriata d’Orba, Carrosio, Francavilla Bisio, Gavi, Novi Ligure, Parodi Ligure, Pasturana, San Cristoforo, Serravalle Scrivia, Tassarolo. When one sees Gavi di Gavi on a label, this means it’s Gavi produced from within the Gavi commune. 
Besides various styles of production from light, dry and fruity to fuller body with oak aging, Gavi is also produced as a spumante. ~Amanda Schuster


  1. Could u freeze 1/2 of this before baking it? 9x13 is too big for us so I usually make 2-smaller dishes as I hate waste & we're not big leftover people.

    1. Haven't tried with this particular one, but I have frozen many pasta dishes before and they've worked beautifully! I'm with you - my family is anti-leftovers!


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