A meatless menu you’ll want to eat year-round

In observance of the Lenten season, many Catholics give up eating meat on Fridays. But let’s face it: Down here in south Louisiana, that’s not exactly a sacrifice.

On Friday nights during Lent, lines at seafood restaurants spill out the door, and those who aren’t dining out are cooking up their favorite seafood dishes at home.

Two of our favorite seafood dishes to share with family and friends are Redfish Court-Bouillon and Baked Crawfish Mac and Cheese. They both showcase some of our homegrown seafood and are easy to prepare.

It’s comfort food that’s still nice enough to present to guests—in other words, the perfect meal for a Friday night gathering in early spring. Enjoy!

Baked Crawfish Mac and Cheese
Redfish Court-Bouillon
Green Goddess over Tomatoes and Avocados

There is nothing more satisfying than rich, creamy baked pasta. Add some delicious crawfish tails, though, and you elevate it to a whole new level. This Baked Crawfish Mac and Cheese is perfect to throw together for a casual Friday night gathering. The sauce is tangy, and the toasted Panko on top gives an extra buttery crunch. It’s a lifesaver for entertaining, because all the prep work can be done ahead of time before you bake it.

Servings: 6

For Crawfish Tails:
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup chopped green onion bottoms
1 pound crawfish tails
½ teaspoon Creole seasoning
13 cup dry white wine
½ cup chopped green onion tops

For Mac and Cheese:
¾ pound (12 ounces) dry penne or rigatoni pasta
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
4 cups warmed whole or low-fat milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Colby jack cheese
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1. In a large skillet, melt the tablespoon of butter. Add the green onion bottoms, and sauté for 30 seconds.
2. Add in the crawfish tails, Creole seasoning and white wine. Sauté another 2 minutes. Fold in the green onion tops and turn off the heat. Set the crawfish tails aside.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
4. In a large sauce pot, melt the ¼ cup of butter. Add in the flour, and cook the roux for 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the warm milk. Add in the Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Stir the mixture over medium heat until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
5. Fold in the cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and sauce is smooth and creamy.
6. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a gratin dish with cooking spray.
7. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pasta, cheese sauce and sautéed crawfish tails.
8. Combine the 2 tablespoons of melted butter and Panko bread crumbs. Pour the crawfish mac and cheese into the prepared gratin dish. Top it with the buttered Panko.
9. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes or until the top is bubbly and golden brown. Serve immediately.

Tracey’s husband and kids like to take fishing trips down to Shell Beach. On their last trip, they caught a lot of redfish. With all those beautiful, wild-caught redfish fillets left over in the freezer, we decided court-bouillon would be just the thing to make for a Friday night dinner during Lent. Court-bouillon is a Creole dish made from a rich roux base along with tomatoes, herbs and spices. It is great to serve for a crowd and can be made in advance. The flavors get better as the dish sits, so we like to make the sauce a day ahead and then bake the fish off in the sauce right before we serve it. The redfish can also be substituted for snapper, grouper or a comparable fish. The dish is delicious over brown or white rice and served with a nice green salad—and don’t forget crusty French bread.

Servings: 6

2½ pounds Redfish fillets
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
¼ cup chopped bell pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
2 15-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes (drained)
4 cups water or seafood stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons hot sauce
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
¼ fresh chopped parsley (for garnish)
Long-grain rice

1. Rinse and pat the fish fillets, and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with Creole seasoning. Set aside.
2. In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir together to make a roux. Keep stirring over medium heat until the roux becomes a deep golden brown color, about 7 to 10 minutes.
3. Add the chopped onion, celery and bell pepper. Sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic, and cook for another 10 seconds.
4. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and water. Stir until the mixture thickens and starts simmering.
5. Whisk in the tomato paste, salt, pepper, hot sauce and dried herbs and bay leaves. Reduce the heat to low. Allow the court-bouillon to simmer 10 to 15 minutes.
6. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Gently place the fish into the court-bouillon, making sure the fillets are covered in the sauce.
7. Cover the Dutch oven and place into the oven. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and beginning to flake when pierced with a fork.
8. Serve the court-bouillon over warm long-grain rice.

We wrote about this Green Goddess Dressing a few years back and how it reminds us of our mom when we were little back in the 1970s. We had never heard of it until one summer when our grandparents served it at their beach house in Texas. Mom fell in love with it. We were too young then to appreciate what all the fuss was about. Thankfully, our palates have evolved. This delicious, tangy dressing has a wonderful balance of flavors and is the perfect complement to a garden fresh green salad. It is easy to make and keeps well in the refrigerator for up to a week. We thought it was an ideal dressing to serve with both of these dishes, so we are reprising this updated-retro recipe. We suggest serving it over some tender butter lettuce, garden-fresh tomatoes and ripe avocado slices. Sometimes, the simplest salads are the best!

Servings: 2 cups of dressing

13 cup chopped fresh parsley
13 cup chopped scallions (tops and bottoms)
1 clove minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 cup mayonnaise
¾ cup buttermilk

1. In a food processor or blender, combine the parsley, scallions, garlic, tarragon, salt, pepper, lemon juice and Worcestershire. Pulse until all ingredients are well minced.
2. Add in the mayonnaise and pulse until combined.
3. With the machine running slowly, pour in the buttermilk until all is incorporated. Transfer the dressing into an airtight bottle or container and chill.

This article was originally published in the March 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.