Serves a Crowd

Creole Crawfish Baked Ziti

April 28, 2021
0 Ratings
Photo by Pete
  • Prep time 45 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 - 6
Author Notes

What happens when you're making a crawfish etouffee for just you and your wife and your son and his family unexpectedly drop in and ask "what's for dinner"? You expand the etouffee with whatever you have sitting in the cupboard, toss it with some pasta and voila, you have a Creole baked pasta. Besides already having shopped for the etouffee, I have a pretty well-stocked kitchen; so to make the etouffee into a sauce, I used some tomato paste and a can of diced tomato. The queso made it extra creamy. This recipe simply calls for twice the stock. For those of you observant enough, my picture is actually that of a lasagna made from no-cook lasagna sheets. This recipe calls for ziti, it's easier to toss together. But if you don't mind assembling a lasagna, it sure is good! I purposely stayed away from adding shredded mozzarella, I was leery of having too much cheese in a so-called etouffee recipe. —Pete

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper (green or red), diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15 oz. containers seafood stock (such as Bar Harbor)
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomato (14.5 oz.)
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons creole seasoning (such as Tony Chachere)
  • 10 ounces queso melt (1 tub)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 pound crawfish tails (typically in the freezer section)
  • 1 pound ziti
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Bring queso dip to room temperature. Defrost the crawfish tails (if frozen).
  2. In a medium stock pot, heat 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Make a roux by adding 3 tbsp flour to the oil and stir the flour; cook and stir constantly (this is important otherwise your flour might burn), about 4 minutes (enough to cook out the raw flavor but keeping the color light).
  3. Add the onion and the white part of the green onion, bell pepper and celery; cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and stir to fully incorporate into the roux. Cook another 2 – 3 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Slowly add the stock and stir to fully incorporate the flour. Cook for about 4 – 5 minutes to allow to thicken. Add the half and half and the diced tomato and continue to stir. Add 1 ½ tsp creole seasoning, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Stir and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in the crawfish and any liquid, the queso cheese and lime juice. Simmer for a few minutes until the crawfish are heated through (go ahead, have a taste!). Taste and adjust with the Creole seasoning to your liking. You shouldn’t need additional salt beyond the spice seasonings. The spice mix has its fair share of salt.
  6. Add the remaining 2 tbsp butter, a little at a time. Stir until melted. Stir in the chopped parsley. Remove from heat and cover; allowing it to sit while cooking the pasta.
  7. Preheat oven to 375°F
  8. Boil pasta in a medium pot of salted boiling water until about halfway cooked (about 2/3 of recommended cooking time). Drain the pasta. (Save about ½ cup of the pasta water, just in case you need something to thin out the pasta and you don’t feel you have enough sauce. It’s easy enough to just toss it if you don’t need it).
  9. In a large bowl, combine the pasta with about 2 ½ cups of the crawfish sauce with all of the crawfish tails. It should be loose with some sauce pooled on the bottom, but not soupy. The pasta will absorb liquid as it bakes. Add additional sauce (or pasta water) to thin it if it looks dry. Scrape the pasta into a large casserole dish (or foil baking pan for an easy clean-up). Spread 1 cup of sauce over the top and sprinkle about ¾ cup of grated parmesan cheese evenly over the top.
  10. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes or until you start to see some bubbling around the edges. Remove foil and bake additional 5 – 10 minutes until bubbling on the sides and the cheese is browning. Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes before serving.
  11. Garnish with parsley and green onion. Heat any remaining sauce and serve with the pasta along with more Parmesan cheese.

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