Monday, February 22, 2016

Dairy-Free Creamy Cajun Alfredo Pasta Bake


Every once in awhile, I find myself falling back into the warm comfort of pasta. I don't eat pasta often, but when I do, I find myself just eating the real thing. Spaghetti squash is great and everything, but nothing beats the chewy soft texture of pasta. Thank goodness for brown rice pasta! This sauce is made dairy free by using cauliflower. It's as easy as a quick saute and then a puree. It's great to hide those veggies for the little kidos who might be a little picky. 

Dairy Free Creamy Cajun Alfredo Pasta Bake

What you'll need:

  • 1lb brown rice pasta
  • 1/2 lb andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 lb large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp Cajun Seasoning (I used FlavorGod Cajun seasoning)
  • fresh cracked black pepper

For the sauce

  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cauliflower head, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock (homemade preferred)
  • 3 roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 tbsp Cajun seasoning (I used FlavorGod Cajun seasoning)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and black pepper to taste

What to do:

  1. Prepare the cauliflower for the sauce by removing the green stems and roughly chopping into manageable chunks. Process in a food processor until the size of a grain of rice, one head of cauliflower should yield about 4 cups. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat with one tablespoon of oil. Saute 1/2 the amount of minced garlic until fragrant. Add the riced cauliflower to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes. Season with garlic powder. Add 1.5 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiled, turn heat down to medium low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, pour into a high powdered blender and puree until smooth. Set aside. 
  2. In a separate pan, saute the minced shallot and remaining garlic until fragrant. Add 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning to the shallot/garlic mixture, stir to coat. Add the roasted red pepper to a blender, along with the sauteed shallot/garlic mixture, tomato paste, and remaining 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning. Puree until smooth. 
  3. Combine the cauliflower puree and roasted red pepper puree into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Sauce can be made a day in advance, makes about 4 cups. 
  4. Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare pasta, boil for 5-7 minutes and drain. Set aside. Saute the onion, garlic, and shallot in a pan until fragrant. Add the sausage, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the shrimp, juice from 1/2 lemon, Cajun seasoning, dried parsley, and pepper. Stir and cook until most of the shrimp has turned pink.
  5. In a 9x13 inch baking dish, layer the bottom of the dish with about 1/4 cup of the cauliflower/red pepper sauce. Toss the pasta and the shrimp/sausage mixture. Add 1 cup of sauce and toss to coat. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes. Then broil for 5 minutes.  




Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Cajun Eggs Benedict with Crawfish Aioli


So truthfully, this cajun eggs benedict dish is a little involved. But that shouldn't deter you from attempting to make them for someone special...or yourself! It's so worth it. I had actually made the cajun sauce for another recipe and had leftovers. I also had leftover crawfish from the night before from a crawfish boil (I wish backyard crawfish boils were more of a thing in Southern California), which I added to the sauce and turned into an aioli. The sauce makes about 4 cups, it's A LOT, more than enough for this dish (unless you'll be catering Sunday Brunch and plan on making eggs benedict for like 20 people...). I say, make the sauce, use it in a casserole or something, or freeze it in ziplock bags; 1 cup measured out into ziplock bags, air removed, and laid flat.

Okay, on to the recipe. I suck at poaching eggs, I've tried every method out there, but all I would get would be ugly wispy whites that just stuck to the bottom of my pan. Anyway, I came across a video on Serious Eats that details the use of a mesh strainer. It worked! Catch that link and the recipe below.


Cajun Eggs Benedict with Crawfish Aioli

What you'll need:
  • 1 cup sweet potatoes, roasted and mashed
  • 2 tsp Cajun Seasoning (I used this one)
  • 1 tsp dried minced onion
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 lb andouille sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb crawfish, boiled and peeled, save shells
  • 2 poached eggs (directions for full proof poached eggs here)
  • crawfish aoli (recipe below)

For the sauce
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cauliflower head, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp chives
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock (homemade preferred)
  • 3 roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • juice from 1/2 lemon

For the aioli
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sauce
  • 1 tbsp melted butter/ghee
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • peeled cawfish



What to do: 
  1. Prepare the cauliflower for the sauce by removing the green stems and roughly chopping into manageable chunks. Process in a food processor until the size of a grain of rice, one head of cauliflower should yield about 4 cups. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat with one tablespoon of oil. Saute 1/2 the amount of minced garlic until fragrant. Add the riced cauliflower to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, parsley and chives. Add 1.5 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiled, turn heat down to medium low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, pour into a high powdered blender/food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside. 
  2. In a separate pan, saute the minced shallot and remaining garlic until fragrant. Add 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning to the shallot/garlic mixture, stir to coat. Add the roasted red pepper to a blender, along with the sauteed shallot/garlic mixture, tomato paste, and remaining 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning. Puree until smooth. 
  3. Combine the cauliflower puree and roasted red pepper puree into a sauce pan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add juice of 1/2 lemon. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Sauce can be made in advance, makes about 4 cups. Allow to cool completely before freezing. 
  4. Note: This step is completely optional, but it'll definitely impart more "crawfish" flavor into the sauce.  Add the peeled crawfish shells, ~ 1 cup of the cauliflower/roasted red pepper sauce, and about 1/4 cup water to a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and add juice of 1/2 lemon. Allow to simmer for about 15 - 20 minutes on low heat. Strain through a mesh strainer to collect the sauce and remove any shell pieces. This sauce will be used to make the aioli. Set aside. 
  5. Make the sweet potato waffles, by mixing, 1 cup of mashed sweet potato with the Cajun seasoning, dried onion and salt/pepper. Scoop 1/2 cup into waffle iron and make waffles per manufacturer instructions. Repeat with remaining 1/2 cup of mashed sweet potato. 
  6. Poach eggs, set aside in a bath of cool water until ready to plate. Meanwhile, saute spinach and sausage until sausage has browned and spinach has wilted. Set aside. 
  7. To make aoli, whisk together 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup cajun sauce (with or without the infused crawfish), juice of 1/2 lemon. Slowly add in melted butter/ghee while whisking constantly. Once combined fold in crawfish meat. 
  8. To assemble, top each waffle with spinach/sausage mixture, poached eggs (rewarm by removing from cool bath and into soft simmering water for 15-20 seconds), and crawfish aoli. 




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