Creamy Cajun Sauce

If you’re like me, you most likely did not celebrate Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day to their fullest due to apathy/fatigue/laziness/busy schedule. Another reason could be that El Paso doesn’t have a thriving Cajun scene, unless you count Crawdaddy’s Bar and Grill on Cincinnati St. The food isn’t very authentic, but it’s a fun place to drink and meat eaters swear by their wings. It’s also where I met a good friend of mine (shout out to Frankie!). They don’t have anything vegetarian, but when he worked there, he would have them make me their pasta dish without the meat. It was linguine with vegetables and a deliciously creamy Cajun sauce. The sauce had a pink hue to it and a ton of dill.  I set out to recreate it and I think I came pretty close to it.

This is one of my go-to recipes when I’m in a rut, don’t know what to make, and haven’t gone grocery shopping. It’s a versatile sauce that’s great on veggies, pasta, rice, etc. If you don’t have Cajun seasoning in your pantry, go and buy it now! It’s basically paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and other spices. You could easily make your own and you probably should due to the high salt content, but it’s of course more convenient to have the ready-made one on hand. There are many brands out there, so I’m not sure which to recommend; I’ve only tried the Louisiana Fish Fry Products brand and Tony Chachere’s. Let me know if you have a favorite brand or recipe.

Recipe #2, vegan version over brown rice, kidney beans, & steamed broccoli
Recipe #2 (vegan version) over brown rice, kidney beans, & steamed broccoli

I give you not one, but three versions of Creamy Cajun Sauce. I don’t really measure for this sauce, so please excuse some of the approximations (~). The recipes make about 2 cups of sauce.

Recipe #1 (roux base)

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk or half & half
~1 cup canned tomatoes, pureed
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
~1 teaspoon dill
Optional: freshly ground black pepper and smoked paprika

Heat butter in a saucepan until melted and bubbling. Add flour and cook 1-2 minutes or until fragrant, whisking frequently. Slowly pour milk or half & half while whisking. Cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add seasonings and tomatoes (more or less until desired consistency is reached). Cook until heated through.

Recipe #2 (vegan version)
Same as above, but with cashew cream.

½-1 cup cashew cream (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter (optional)
~1 cup canned tomatoes, pureed
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
~1 teaspoon dill
Optional: freshly ground black pepper and smoked paprika

For the cashew cream, soak 1/2 cup of raw cashews in enough cold water to cover them; refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drain the cashews and rinse. Cover the cashews in water again and puree until smooth. Add enough water to get a thick, yet slightly runny consistency. Set aside.

Heat  butter in a saucepan until melted and bubbling. Add Cajun seasoning and dill, stirring and cooking for about a minute or until fragrant. Add more or less tomatoes and cashew cream until desired consistency is reached. Cook until heated through.

Version #3 (quickest version) 
Same as above, but with sour cream.

~½ cup sour cream
~1 cup canned tomatoes, pureed
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
~1 teaspoon dill
Optional: freshly ground black pepper and smoked paprika

Combine all ingredients (more or less sour cream & tomatoes until desired consistency is reached) in a saucepan. You may need to add a bit of water if you want a thinner consistency. Cook until heated through.

Recipe #3
Recipe #3 (quickest version) with whole wheat penne, steamed broccoli, & mozzarella 

 

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