Today, we’re crossin’ state lines, bridging the gap between Texas pride and Louisiana love with a dish that captures the essence of Southern festival season – Crawfish Monica.
Imagine takin’ a stroll through one of those lively Southern Louisiana festivals, where the music’s as rich as the food, and then you get a whiff of something downright irresistible.
That, my friends, is the magic of Crawfish Monica, a pasta dish so full of flavor, it’ll make you wanna dance.
It’s got a creamy, spicy kick, tender crawfish tails, and rotini pasta that just soaks up all that goodness. As a Texan who’s spent many a day fallin’ head over boots for Louisiana’s charms, I’m here to tell y’all about this culinary gem that bridges the best of both worlds.
So, grab your fork (and maybe a napkin or two) ’cause we’re diving deep into the heart of Southern cooking with a dish that’s sure to become a favorite…
The History of Crawfish Monica Pasta
Crawfish Monica is a dish that has become synonymous with the festival scene in Southern Louisiana, particularly at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. It was created by chef Pierre Hilzim and named after his wife, Monica Davidson.
The dish, a crawfish-laden pasta smothered in a rich cream sauce spiced with cayenne pepper, quickly gained popularity after its introduction in the 1980s and has since become a beloved staple at the festival and beyond. It’s now one of Louisianna’s most recognizable and popular dishes.
The origins of Crawfish Monica are deeply rooted in the rich culinary tradition of Louisiana, where crawfish is a key ingredient in many dishes, celebrating the state’s love for seafood and spicy, flavorful recipes.
Chef Hilzim’s creation brilliantly combines tender crawfish tails with fresh pasta, as making use of leftover crawfish tails from the state’s favorite pastime, a crawfish boil, is a helpful and delicious way to use up leftover seafood.
It encapsulates the essence of Louisiana’s vibrant food culture, making it a must-try for visitors and a point of pride for locals.
Over the years, this elegant dish has not only remained a highlight of the Jazz Fest’s culinary offerings but has also spread in popularity, becoming a sought-after recipe for home cooks and professional chefs alike who wish to bring a taste of Louisiana’s festival spirit to their tables.
How To Make Crawfish Monica
Crawfish Monica is a straightforward dish that is essentially a homemade alfredo sauce, spiced with cajun seasoning and infused with fresh crawfish.
- After cooking the rotini pasta and chopping the traditional toppings of green onion and parsley, the sauce is built by sauteing fresh shallot and garlic in butter.
- Gently fold in pre-cooked crawfish tails from the grocery store or your own reserved from a crawfish boil.
- Add in the cream and parmesan cheese.
- Season with cajun seasoning and a pop of lemon juice.
- Top with green onions and parsley, and fold the fresh herbs in as seen at Jazz Fest.
Tips To Make Crawfish Pasta
- The best crawfish to use in this recipe are Louisiana crawfish leftover from a crawfish boil, in which the seafood has been poached in a flavorful broth. These spicy crawfish are the most authentic in flavor to those used in South Louisiana.
- If fresh-from-the-boil crawfish is not available, make sure to try and source real Louisiana crawfish tails which have a unique flavor specific to the waterways of the South.
- Cajun and Creole Seasoning are used to flavor this rich cream sauce, reminiscent of spicy alfredo sauce. Try and obtain your favorite Louisiana Seasoning blends for the most authentic flavor. (See photos of our favorite seasonings.)
- Rotini pasta (corkscrew pasta) is traditionally used at festivals likely because it’s so easy to fork, but you can experiment with other dry pasta if you desire. This crawfish recipe is terrific as a crawfish fettuccini.
- The creamy sauce is created using parmesan cheese but you may choose to substitute asiago cheese or a blend of hard Italian cheeses.
- Deglaze the onions and garlic with brandy or white wine for an elegant dash of flavor.
What To Serve with Pasta Monica
When serving Crawfish Monica, a dish rich in creamy, spicy flavors, you’ll want sides that complement its richness without overshadowing its distinct taste. Here are some ideal side dishes to serve alongside Crawfish Monica:
Green Salad: A simple side salad dressed with a light vinaigrette can add a fresh, crisp element to the meal, offering a break from the dish’s heaviness.
Garlic Bread or French Bread: For those who can’t get enough carbs, garlic bread is a great choice. Lots of French bread is ideal for scooping up sauce and adds a fragrant, buttery layer to the feast.
Grilled Asparagus: Grilled asparagus with a squeeze of lemon offers a smoky, slightly tangy addition to the plate, complementing the creamy pasta without competing with it.
Traditional New Orleans Cocktails: Louisiana’s most popular dishes are spicy, which is why the drinks are usually sweet! A sweet, ice-cold cocktail is lovely with this rich hot pasta. Our favorites include the Hurricane, Gin Fizz, and local fruit punch and rum blends.
Choosing one or a combination of these sides can create a well-rounded, satisfying meal that lets Crawfish Monica shine as the star while providing a variety of flavors and textures to enjoy.
Crawfish Monica is a creamy cajun crawfish pasta, traditionally served at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. This recipe can be made in under 30 minutes and serves a crowd!
- 1 pound rotini pasta
- 1 pound crawfish tails, cooked and peeled
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed and finely minced
- 3 shallots, small diced
- ¼ c. brandy or white wine (may be omitted if desired)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- ½ tablespoon cajun seasoning
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
- Pinch red pepper flakes, if desired spicy
- 3 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
- 1/3 c. fresh parsley, chopped
In a large pot, fill the pan with water and cook the rotini pasta according to the package directions until al dente, drain well, reserving one cup of the pasta water in case you need to thin the sauce. Reserve the pasta in the stock pot for later. (Keep it covered with a lid to maintain warmth.
In a large saute pan or large skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of butter and a drizzle of olive oil, over medium heat. Add the small diced shallots and toss in the butter. Cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent and soft. Add in the garlic. Stir the garlic until fragrant.
Add in the brandy or wine (if you are using it, if not move on to the next step) to deglaze the pan and stir and simmer until the pan is nearly dry and all of the liquid from the alcohol is nearly evaporated. You can turn the pan up to medium-high heat to move this along if you wish.
Pour in the 2 cups of heavy cream and 1 lb crawfish tails and increase the heat to high. Whisk in the parmesan cheese, cajun seasoning, and black pepper, then season with salt if needed, and stir in the fresh lemon juice. Add red pepper flakes if you like spicier pasta sauce.
Reduce the heat and simmer this mixture for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Taste for seasoning and make any adjustments. Pour the completed sauce over the reserved cooked pasta, and toss well.
At New Orleans Jazz Fest the garnishes of green onion and parsley are folded into the pasta at this point, but you can serve them on top if you like, or leave them out for guests who don’t like them (aka kids).
If you need to thin the sauce you have the reserved pasta water. Add it in 2 tablespoons at a time until you have achieved the right consistency and re-test for seasoning before serving.
Serve hot from the pan with garlic bread, a green salad, and your favorite Mardi Gras drinks!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 723Total Fat: 50gSaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 213mgSodium: 946mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 27g
This nutritional information is provided as a courtesy as an estimate only. Consult with a dietician for precise estimates. This website makes no claims that the nutritional values listed are accurate.