11 June 2012

Gourmet Crawfish Pasta Salad

Louisiana crawfish
Louisiana crawfish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Denny:  Wonderful fresh greens of arugula and parsley combined with black olives, tomatoes, artichokes, green onions and bell pepper start the base for this tasty pasta salad.  If you can't find crawfish tails then substitute shrimp or even a favorite local meaty fish.

Here in Louisiana we like a lot of freshly sliced green onions in our dishes as they pair quite well with sauced seafood.  This pasta salad gets dressed up divine with a prepared remoulade sauce that is thinned with a bit of your favorite oil (canola oil or clarified butter at our house) and an added pinch of sugar.  

Do be aware that many prepared remoulade sauces have large portions of horseradish in the ingredient ratio.  I love horseradish and don't mind the intense mind and sinus-numbing sear but my husband hates it since it burns his mouth.  So, be aware some people can't take a lot of horseradish.  Make sure to taste any prepared remoulade sauce to make sure your family can handle it.

What can you do to replace a heavily horseradish laced remoulade sauce?  Try the idea of making an oil, vinegar and garlic vinaigrette dressing.  You can also make a dressing of half vinaigrette and and half light mayonnaise.

We like balsamic vinegar at our house for vinaigrette dressing but for this recipe be sure to use a light vinegar like a rice vinegar.  A dark vinegar can cause the vegetables to turn purplish in a cold salad.  Do make sure that the vinegar dressing is well emulsified.  If it is not it can make the vegetables turn a bit grayish.  And, hey, if you happen to have some leftover roasted garlic, wow, does that make a stellar vinaigrette too.

Cold pasta salad often requires a bit of a seasoning adjustment to your personal taste.  Once everything is well mixed together see if it could use a touch more salt, cayenne pepper, perhaps some fresh cracked black pepper, maybe even a bit more vinegar or a generous splash of fresh lemon juice.

Just be careful not to be tempted to up the seasoning by pouring on too much dressing that the salad becomes too wet and soupy.  The idea is to keep the salad plump and lightly dressed.  It just isn't fair to drown a salad of such quality ingredients in too much dressing! :)




Crawfish Pasta Salad


Serves:  6


From:  Corinne Cook, long time food writer at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, The Advocate newspaper


Ingredients:


2 cups dry pasta, cooked in boiling, salted water until al dente, drained


1½ to 2 cups cooked crawfish tails


3 green onions, chopped


1 (14-oz.) can artichokes, drained and quartered


½ cup whole black olives or desired amount


½ cup halved cherry tomatoes


¼ red, yellow or green bell pepper, chopped


1 tbl. chopped fresh parsley


Dressing:


1 handful of fresh arugula (rocket)


2 or 3 boiled crawfish, for garnish


Sliced boiled eggs, for garnish


Dressing:


1/2  cup prepared remoulade sauce


1 1/2  Tablespoons vegetable or olive oil


Generous pinch of sugar


1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, or to taste


Salt and pepper, to taste


Directions:


1. Place pasta, crawfish, onions, artichokes, olives, tomatoes, bell pepper and parsley in large bowl. Gently stir to mix. 


2. In separate bowl make up dressing by thinning remoulade sauce with oil and a pinch of sugar. Whisk thoroughly and gently toss with pasta and crawfish. You want it coated but not overly sauced.


3. Add Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate and taste again right before serving.


4. Place pasta on arugula-lined platter or stir arugula loosely into salad.


5. Garnish with boiled crawfish or sliced boiled eggs.



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