Thursday, August 23, 2007

Crawfish Fra Diavolo

This dish is very, very spicy, occasionally healthy, and very, very tasty. Serve it with either a Sauvignon Blanc (if you prefer whites) or maybe a Syrah. If you prefer sweeter wines, try a Vouvray or a mixed grape table wine (such as Folie a Deux's Menage a Trois white).

(And yes, you can substitute the ol' standard - shrimp.)

Crawfish Fra Diavolo

1 pound crawfish tails, peeled
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried crushed pepper flakes
3 tbsp olive oil plus 1 to 2 tablespoons
1 medium onion, sliced
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup dry white wine (such as...oh, I dunno, a Sauvignon Blanc?)
3 garlic cloves, chopped coarsely
1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves
3 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped coarsely

Toss the crawfish in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the crawfish tails and saute for about a minute, toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the crawdads to a large plate; set aside. Add the onion to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, garlic, and oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Return the crawfish and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute so the flavors meld together. Stir in the parsley and basil. Season with more salt, to taste, and serve over seasoned pasta. Speaking of which...while the sauce is thickening, you should be boiling pasta and prepping the seasoning for it.

1 pound low-carb or whole wheat spaghetti
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (I'm a BIG fan of kosher salt)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped coarsely

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil. Serves 6.

I like to serve dishes like this with steamed asparagus. Asparagus picks up the lemony flavor of the pasta beautifully. Italian food - even reinvented as Cajun-inspired Italian - is great for big dinners when your friends come over and sit around your table, laughing and consuming copious quantities of wine.

Enjoy - and remember, that leftover wine from cooking is just lagniappe.

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