During the late spring and early summer months my husband will drive to a local reservoir and fish for crawfish. He usually comes home with several pounds that we cook in a variety of ways, but this recipe seems to be the family favorite. We leave the shell on the crawfish tail, which can be a bit messy to eat, but the flavor is delicious. There is a lot of debate whether to soak live crawfish in salted water to purge the mud and intestinal contents from their systems before cooking or just soak them in plain unsalted water. We purge them with a bit of salt, but that is your option. This marinara sauce can be used for other pasta dishes. It is good on its own, but also works well with vegetables and white fish such as cod. It is delicious with shrimp, crab, lobster, or stuffed squid.
Pasta with Crawfish Marinara
25 live crawfish (1-1/2 to 2 lbs.)
10 c. water
5 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. Zatarains liquid crab boil
1 large lemon, quartered
Begin by purging live crawfish. Rinse them well with water to clean them, then take a large bowl and fill it with fresh cool water. Add 1-2 Tbsp. kosher salt. Add live crawfish and let them sit in the salted water for 15-20 minutes. You will see expelled sand and grit on the bottom of the bowl. Drain water and rinse crawfish. Repeat process if desired.
Fill a 6-8 quart stockpot with 10 cups water. Add 5 Tbsp. kosher salt. Cover and bring to the boil. Add liquid crab boil and lemon, then add crawfish. Cover and return to a boil. Remove pot from the heat and let crawfish sit in the liquid for 30 minutes. Use crawfish immediately or refrigerate until ready to make the sauce. When ready to use, remove the front two large claws and the tail from the crawfish, pulling out the intestinal vein when you twist the back fins off the tail. Keep the shell on the tail. Set claws and tails aside for the marinara and discard the rest.
2 (28 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. fresh chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
2 large fresh basil leaves
generous pinch of dried Greek oregano
salt and pepper to taste
sugar to taste
1/2 c. water to thin sauce
3/4 lb. spaghettini
Begin making the marinara sauce by putting the canned tomatoes in a blender to purée, then run through a food mill to extract the seeds. In a 5-quart stockpot heat olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute to soften but not brown. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add herbs, salt and pepper, and sugar to taste. Cover and bring to a boil. Add water and cook for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Add cooked crawfish claws and tails. Lower heat and let simmer 20-25 minutes. While the sauce is simmering cook pasta until al dente. Pour cooked pasta into a serving bowl and stir sauce with crawfish into the pasta. Toss, then serve. Use your fingers to remove the tail meat from the shells. (If you are very patient you can crack the claws and remove tiny but tasty, delicate claw meat as well.) Messy but delicious. Serves 6.