The stretch of summer from mid July into September in Louisiana’s humid climates make it one of the hottest places in the country. As bayou and prairie Cajuns alike, our eating habits tend to reflect a switch from less hearty and heavy roux-based meals to lighter seafood dishes that keep our bellies full during the warmer months. We have put together some of our favorite go-to summer Cajun recipes for you and your family to share and enjoy. These recipes highlight locally sourced Louisiana ingredients, but you can adapt them regionally to ingredients you have on hand!
Creole Tomato and Cucumber Salad
This cool, Cajun classic is a staple of late summer cuisine. Found on just about every table next to the rice and gravy, this is a light, healthy and low-carb recipe with a tang and a bite!
5 large, ripe creole tomatoes, sliced
3 large, ripe garden cucumbers, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch rounds
1 thin sliced red onion
1 cup of mayonnaise
Juice and Zest of One Lemon
5 tablespoons of white vinegar
1 packet of dry Good Seasons Italian dressing mix
extra virgin olive oil for garnish
1) With a whisk, rapidly mix the white vinegar, lemon, mayo and Italian dressing mix.
2) Toss tomatoes, onions and cucumbers in the mixture lightly so that the tomatoes don’t fall apart. Place alternating slices of cucumber, tomato and red onion on a platter, stacking them lyin down (like you would lay out Ritz crackers on a platter).
3) Blend a little salt, black pepper and olive oil in a bowl and drizzle over the cucumber tomato and onion platter. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
Scotty’s Red White and Blue Cheese Potato Salad
This summer classic gets a patriotic twist with some red/purple potatoes, blue cheese bacon dressing, and a touch of tangy and sweet Cane’s vinegar for a kick! Pack your bags for flavortown, and be prepared to never serve a plain potato salad again.
8 small red potatoes, scrubbed and boiled (leave on peels)
8 small purple potatoes, scrubbed and boiled (leave on peels)
1 pound of Wright Bacon, cooked crispy, and with bacon fat reserved
1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons of Steen’s Cane Vinegar
6 ounces of Blue Cheese crumbles
Thin Sliced Green Onion to Garnish
1) While potatoes are still hot from being boiled, cut them in thirds and set aside.
2) While bacon grease is still hot, add blue cheese crumbles to hot grease and stir until mostly dissolved.
3) Whisk in Dijon mustard and Steen’s Cane Syrup Vinegar
4) Pour mixture onto still hot potatoes, garnish with green onions and toss. Top with bacon crumbles and serve warm!
Deep Fried, Crispy Southern Catfish
Catfish and South Louisiana go hand in hand during the long, humid summers. This is a great dish to cook outdoors at the camp, but it can be done with proper ventilation inside of an air conditioned kitchen as well! Proper care to follow instructions like patting the fish filets dry before hand and using a three step process to coat the fish before frying should produce super crispy catfish even upon reheating! Bon Appetit!
6 to 8 large catish filets, patted dry with paper towels and sliced into strips
1/2 half gallon of peanut or vegetable oil, preheated to 365 degrees
4 tablespoons of yellow mustard
6 eggs, beaten
3 cups of Zatarain’s Fish Fri
2 cups of plain white all purpose flour
6 tablespoons of All Purpose Seafood Seasoning, like Tony Chachere or Old Bay
2 Sliced lemons and 2 sliced Sweet Onions for Garnish
1) Lay out three medium sized baking dishes. The first should have the plain, white flour, the second should have the egg mixture combined with the mustard and seafood seasoning, and the third should have the Fish-Fri Cornmeal mixture. Using a three step process will ensure that your batter doesn’t fall off in the hot grease.
2) Heat your oil to 365 degrees in a cast iron frying pan with high sides. Do not fill pan more than halfway deep with oil.
3) Working in three separate batches of two filets worth of fish strips at a time, dip strips into the flour first, the egg second and the cornmeal last, covering completely and pressing in the batter, then immediately drop into the hot grease.
3) Cook the fish for approximately 8-9 minutes, watching for a nice, deep golden brown color. Do not overcrowd your frying pan for best results. Results can vary, so watch for color to be your guide. Flip the fish with tongs a few times to ensure even cooking.
4) Lay a paper towel lined pan out with slices of onion and lemon, and put fresh, hot fish on top of the onions and lemons.
Louisiana Travel’s Ponchatoula Strawberry Pie
This easy dessert evokes memories of the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, which annually celebrates the sweet, tangy, juicy berries with various savory and sweet dishes. A fan favorite, the Ponchatoula Strawberry Pie is a gorgeous, simple and elegant way to capture the singular flavor of a fat, ripe strawberry. This recipe calls for a prebaked pie shell, but you are also welcome to use your own family favorite pie crust if you prefer!
1 baked 9-inch pie shell
1 quart fresh Ponchatoula strawberries
1 cup white sugar + 1/2 tablespoon reserved for whipped cream
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Arrange half of strawberries in baked pie shell.
Mash remaining berries and combine with sugar in a medium saucepan. Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Gradually stir cornstarch mixture into boiling strawberry mixture.
Reduce heat and simmer until thick, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour mixture over berries in the pie shell.
Chill for at least 2 hours. Take whipping cream and beat in a small bowl with 1/2 tablespoon of sugar and vanilla until peaks form. Spread over top of chilled pie. Cut and serve!