6 Dinner Recipes Celebrating Mardi Gras With Cajun-Creole Flavors

Most of us won’t make it to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras this year, but we can at least celebrate the occasion in our kitchens. Louisiana Travel explains that New Orleans’ distinctively rich fare combines Cajun (French colonists who initially settled in Canada’s Acadian region) and Creole (French colonists who initially settled in Louisiana) culinary influences, yielding delicacies unlike those you’ll find anywhere else in the region. Get a taste of the Bayou State’s celebrations with these 6 Cajun- and Creole-spiced meals inspired by Mardi Gras.

Shrimp Rice Soup, Stew

Source: iStock

1. Creamy Cajun Shrimp Soup

This creamy Spiced Shrimp Soup is a splendidly warming dish to serve friends and family. The dish offers all the flavors of a traditional gumbo, but requires far less time to prepare, requiring a total of just 45 minutes in the kitchen. The Weary Chef’s recipe is a great option for impressive, cozy weeknight dinners. The recipe yields 4 servings, but there’s no pressure to finish it all at once. The leftovers keep beautifully, making this a great choice for the next day’s lunch as well.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pound thawed, peeled shrimp (if using large or jumbo shrimp, cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • Hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste

DirectionsMelt butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, and Cajun seasoning. Sauté until vegetables are starting to get tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook a minute longer.

Stir in flour until vegetables are coated. Stir in the chicken broth about ½ cup at a time, stirring until smooth before adding more. Once the mixture is liquid-like instead of pasty, pour the rest in all at once and stir well. Bring to a low boil.

Stir in rice, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover. Cook 20 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking making sure to scrape any rice off the bottom of the pan.

Turn heat back to medium, stir in milk, and bring back to a simmer. Add shrimp, and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Remove from heat and serve immediately to avoid overcooking the shrimp. Add hot sauce or cayenne pepper to the whole pot or individual servings to suit your taste.

Chicken, noodles, pasta

Source: iStock

2. Cajun-Creole Spiced Chicken Fettuccine

For a Mardi Gras-inspired dish with a hearty pasta base, opt for this creamy, Cajun-Creole Spiced Chicken Fettuccine from Pasadena Daisy. This main course is a cinch to make, but boasts all the powerful flavors of a professionally-made meal. You’ll taste hints of paprika, garlic, and Cajun seasoning in each bite, tempered by mild onions, garlic, and cream. Each batch yields 4 servings of savory dinnertime satisfaction.

Ingredients:

  • 1 red bell pepper sliced thin
  • 1 yellow bell pepper sliced thin
  • 1 red onion sliced thin
  • 4 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of thyme, oregano, smoked paprika and dried, ground chipotle
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 pound dried fettuccine, cooked and drained

DirectionsSlice vegetables and set aside.

Combine all spices in a small dish. Wash chicken, then pat dry and rub with spices (you will probably have some left over).

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan. Add chicken and cook on medium-high heat on one side for about 7 minutes. Flip chicken, reduce heat slightly. Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through. Remove and set chicken aside.

In same pan, add vegetables and cook until very tender. Add cream to vegetables and heat through. Add cooked pasta and stir to combine and heat through. Transfer pasta and vegetables to bowl. Slice chicken and serve on top of pasta.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

3. Seared Cajun Scallops With Creamy Bacon Corn Sauce

It wouldn’t be an authentic taste of the Big Easy without another indulgent seafood dish on the menu. The Two Bite Club’s Seared Cajun Scallops With Creamy Bacon Corn Sauce offers the perfect solution for cooks seeking a decadent entrée from the sea. Searing your scallops results in an irresistible crisp in each bite. The dish is smothered in a Cajun-spiced cream sauce, punctuated with chunks of freshly-cooked bacon. Serve with a side salad and crusty bread on the side to make the meal complete.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups corn
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¾ pound sea scallops
  • 4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup tomato, chopped
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon blackening seasoning
  • ½ cup half and half

DirectionsRemove the side muscle from the scallops, rinse with cold water, and pat dry with a paper towel. Season the scallops with the salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a large skillet to medium high and add the chopped bacon to the pan; cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the bacon is crisp. Drain off the fat, leaving 1 tablespoon in the pan. Stir in the tomato, onions, and bell peppers and cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add the blackening seasoning, corn, and half and half to the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, add the oil and the butter to another large saute pan over high heat. When the oil and butter just begin to smoke, add the scallops, making sure they are not touching each other. Sear for 1½ minutes on each side. Serve the scallops over the corn mixture.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

4. Gumbo With Corn Grits and Smoky Brown Butter

We already gave you a spectacular gumbo shortcut, but if you’re in it for the real thing then Half Baked Harvest’s recipe is the right place to start! One bite of this Andouille And Chicken Gumbo With Corn Grits And Smoky Brown Butter will transport you directly to New Orleans’ French Quarter. The zesty flavors of the gumbo mingle with buttery grits to complete this tried-and-true combination of Southern flavors. This recipe takes 40 minutes to make and yields 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:

Gumbo:

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen okra
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon creole seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 to 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • ½ pound andouille sausage, sliced + halved again into half circles
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into smaller pieces
  • 1 tablespoons corn starch mixed with a ¼ cup cold water

Grits:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ears grilled corn

Chilied brown butter:

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder

DirectionsIn a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, until the flour begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the garlic, onion, okra, and bell peppers, cook until the veggies begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, thyme, oregano, basil, creole seasoning, chili powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cover pot and cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in the broth, chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and shred with a fork. Return the chicken to the gumbo. If a thicker consistency for your broth is desired, bring the gumbo to a boil and add the corn starch mixture. Simmer 1 to 2 minutes or until just slightly thickened. Simmer over low heat until ready to serve.

While the gumbo is cooking, prepare the grits. In a small pot, bring the water, milk, and salt to a boil. Slowly stir the grits into the boiling mixture. Stir continuously until the grits are well mixed. Let the pot return to a boil, cover and lower the heat to low, cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more milk if necessary. Once the grits are creamy, stir in the butter and grilled corn kernels. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the smoky brown butter: Heat a heavy-bottomed 10- to 12-inch skillet, add butter and melt over medium heat until just browned. Butter will melt, foam, and froth, and then begin to brown along the bottom. Whisk the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan. Stir in the smoked paprika and chili powder.

To serve, divide the grits among bowls. Top with gumbo, drizzle with butter. Garnish with basil if desired. Enjoy!

Rinsing Quinoa

Source: iStock

5. Andouille and Quinoa Stuffed Spiced Peppers

Picture yourself down on the bayou as you indulge in these Andouille and Quinoa Stuffed Spiced Peppers from the Suburban Soapbox. Tangy poblano peppers are loaded with a cheesy quinoa-sausage blend, finished with the flavors of Cajun-Creole spices. The recipe only takes about 50 minutes to make, and can easily be prepared the previous day to save time before cooking. One batch of these spectacular stuffed peppers will serve 5 people.

Ingredients:

  • 5 green poblano peppers
  • 2 (4-ounce) andouille sausage links, diced
  • 1 cup diced vidalia onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons cajun seasoning
  • 1½ cups shredded colby jack cheese, divided
  • 1 (14-ounce) can unsalted tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

DirectionsPreheat a broiler on high.

Place the poblanos on a baking sheet and broil until the entire surface is charred and blistered turning the peppers as needed, approximately 10 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large skillet, cook the sausage until browned and it has rendered some of it’s fat. Add the onion to the pan and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Turn off the heat and stir in the quinoa, diced tomatoes, cajun seasoning and 1 cup of cheese. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the tomato sauce, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture into the bottom of a 9-by-13 baking dish.

Carefully peel the skins off the peppers and cut a slit up one side of the pepper. Remove the seeds by gently wiping them away with your hands. Holding the pepper in one hand, slowly spoon the quinoa mixture into the pepper being sure to fill it completely. Place the pepper in the baking dish seam side up and repeat procedure to fill the remaining peppers. Top the peppers with the remaining cheese and bake for 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tempeh, soy

Source: iStock

6. Cajun Tempeh Sloppy Joes

Cajun-craving vegans and vegetarians will adore Connoisseurus Veg’s take on Cajun Tempeh Sloppy Joes. The recipe requires just 20 minutes in the kitchen, yielding phenomenally tasty results. Soy tempeh is the featured player in the dish, combining with signature Cajun spices and veggies to make a rewarding, festive comfort food that’s perfect for any day of the week. The recipe yields 4 servings of Cajun-spiced goodness.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Cayenne pepper hot sauce, to taste
  • 4 buns, for serving

DirectionsPlace oil in medium skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, garlic, and tempeh. Sauté 5 minutes more.

Add remaining ingredients (except for buns); stir and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, until heated throughout, adding a bit of water if it becomes too dry. Divide mixture onto buns. Season with additional hot sauce.

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