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With summer officially upon us, states across the nation are breaking out their barbecues to perform some good old fashion Louisiana-inspired cooking. Look no further for good Cajun-style eats with a healthy twist.
June was an important month for Cajun food-lovers throughout the United States. States like Virginia and Kansas led the charge for music and food festivals that celebrate the love of Cajun-style cooking despite their northerly latitudes.
June 22 through the 24 saw over 8,000 pounds of crawfish enter Norfolk, VA, straight from Louisiana’s shores. The Bayou Boogaloo Music and Cajun Food Festival brought people far and wide to one location to listen to live music on multiple stages and celebrate spicy seafood all the spicy delicacies made at the festival.
“…jambalaya, seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee, Po’ Boy sandwiches, alligator, sweet and savory beignets, King Cake, andouille sausage, chicken wings, red beans, jerk chicken, crab cakes, cochon de lait, boudin, blackened grilled shrimp, pulled pork, ice cream novelties, and kettle corn,” were just some of the delicious southern eats offered at the festival in late June.
But Virginia wasn’t the only state to celebrate. The centrally-located Kansas also held a Cajun-inspired food festival at the start of the year to feast in Wichita. The festival is so popular, local groups offered free tickets to the Cajun Food Fest special winners during their annual summer Wichita River Fest.
It’s no surprise the love for this style of cooking has stretched up the rivers of the United States. An estimated 15 pounds of seafood are consumed by Americans each year, making it a staple in the American diet.
Louisiana accounts for nearly 95% of the United States’ crawfish production during warm weather months. The Louisiana crawfish industry supposedly reaches back to the late 1800s though it is nothing in comparison to the industry today. An estimated 13.28 million people live in houses that harbor a boat in the U.S. alone, and that doesn’t include the commercial fishing industry.
If you feel like you’re missing out, have no fear: you don’t need to own one of the 11,000 private jets to fly to good Cajun cooking. You can make your own recipe right at home. If you’re looking for a healthy, vegan alternative, feel free to add more vegetables and substitute tofu for shrimp, or leave it out! This dish still offers Louisiana flavors whether or not you include the fish.
Prepare your shrimp, tofu or crawfish Cajun-style
Try making delicious Cajun butter beans and shrimp (or crawfish) for your next backyard barbecue. All you need are the following:
- 16 oz lima beans
- 16 oz shrimp or shrimp substitute
- rice, cooked
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp vegan Cajun seasoning (don’t be afraid to add more!)
- 1 can of tomatoes
While you wait for your beans to boil in a large pot, simply sautee your celery, onions, and bell peppers in a pan with olive oil as a healthy butter alternative along with a healthy dose of your Cajun seasoning. When your onions look soft, add in the garlic until the dish starts to smell fragrant. Then, stir in this mixture and the can of tomatoes into your simmering beans. If you’ve opted to use the shrimp, use your pan to sautee the shrimp in Cajun seasoning and more olive oil on a low heat to thaw your shrimp if they’re frozen. If you’ve decided not to use the shrimp, don’t hesitate to add more vegan Cajun seasoning to your dish for a bigger kick of flavor.
This is the real kicker: add half the bean mixture into a blender. When you add it back into your beans, it’ll serve as the thickening agent to hold the whole dish together when you toss in your shrimp or shrimp substitute.
Simply serve over rice, and you’ll have easy southern comfort food even if you couldn’t make the Cajun festivals this summer. According to the Gaston Gazette, these are all the ingredients you need to make a delicious, healthy alternative to your favorite Cajun dish.