Sometimes, in the midst of exams, internships, and just college or young professional life, we can result to cooking as a rote chore instead of a pleasurable experience. But by adding a few exciting Cajun dishes to your meal plan, such as the ones below you could have both a blast in the kitchen and a much-needed vacation from the world of scrambled eggs and toast (no offense to either, they’ve proven invaluable when our bank accounts were low). We’ve kept an eye out for simple, tasty, and classically cajun recipes, and we think that sharing these dishes with beloved friends is a great way to take your mind off the stresses of school. Here are 10 Cajun dishes to spice up your cooking.
1). New Orleans Red Beans And Rice
Based on the price of college these days, it’s probably a given that you’ve already got tons of beans and rice in your house as grocery staples. Why not transform them into a delicious Cajun dish like New Orleans-style red beans and rice? With bay leaves, cayenne pepper, thyme, ham, and Andouille sausage, this meal is perfectly flavorful and filling, and great for those late night cram (we mean… study) sessions with pals. We’re sure that you can substitute canned red beans for dried, but the experts behind this particular recipe recommend that you soak the dried kind overnight before using (a small price to pay for the best beans & rice ever). Next, just place all your beans, meats, and spices (with some water) in a pot to boil and prepare your rice. Yum!
2. Cajun Whole Roast Chicken
If the process of roasting a whole bird by yourself has you wanting to *chicken* out, this cajun roast chicken is a great way to eradicate that fear. This recipe relies mostly on the great spices and slower cooking time (this chicken takes about an hour and a half in the oven) rather than tons of complicated steps from the cook, so you’ll get yourself a delicious meal without even breaking a sweat. Plus, you can even add potatoes and carrots to your dish, so you’ll have a spicy, savory, healthy snack waiting for you in the fridge whenever you may need it. Let’s give the Dino nuggets a week off. They deserve it.
3. Blackened Cajun Salmon
If you’re anything like us, you’re a big salmon fan but often have no idea how to cook it (or end up just using salt and pepper, roasting it, and loosing some major flavor potential- whoops). But this delectable salmon recipe practically cooks itself- all you’ve got to is blend your spices, coat your salmon in olive oil, marinade it and let it sit for about an hour before cooking for seven minutes on both sides (preferably in a cast iron skillet). Best served with green beans and a healthy appetite!
4. Cajun Chicken Alfredo Dip
Sometimes, we wish we could just have a cheesy dip for dinner. Luckily, with this cajun chicken Alfredo dip, that wish can be a reality! All this dip consists of is a simple Alfredo base (parmesan, cream, butter, garlic), Cajun seasoning, mozzarella, cream cheese, and chicken. If you’d like to increase the nutritional value of this scrumptious dip, try adding some chopped broccoli. Maybe this Cajun delight is more of an occasional treat… but now you’ve got an impressive dish to share with your friends during the Super Bowl! Find the recipe here.
5. Cajun Catfish
If you’re lucky enough to live near a grocery store that sells fresh catfish, seize that opportunity and make yourself a quick, tasty catfish meal (with Rachel Ray’s own recipe). Not only can you make this catfish in under ten minutes- but this meal includes a fast, creamy corn sauté which perfectly counteracts the kick of the cajun seasoning. Top with a generous helping of cilantro, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and dig in!
6. Cajun Butter Steak Bites
Cajun dishes may often favor seafood, but that doesn’t mean they can’t feature some juicy cuts of grade A steak from time to time. You can cut up a fine cut of steak yourself (just make sure to go against the grain) or purchase pre-cut steak, then toss in a great Cajun seasoning blend before searing on each side (2 minutes on each side for medium, 3-4 minutes for well done). Then, take the steak off the heat, heat the butter and the garlic, and top your steak with the mixture. Who needs Outback Steakhouse, anyway? Get the recipe here.
7. Blackened Shrimp Po Boy
If you haven’t tried a shrimp po boy yet (or have but it’s just been too long), you are in for a massive treat. This outstanding sandwich is tangy, spicy, and crunchy, with blackened shrimp instead of fried. Don’t be intimidated by the homemade remoulade included in this recipe– just pulse a few ingredients in the blender, and you’ve got yourself a creamy sauce that’s out of this world (a bit like a tangier aioli). After you’ve prepared your shrimp and sauce, just layer onto freshly toasted French rolls with tomatoes, cabbage, and pickles. Fantastique!
8. New Orleans Gumbo
We know that writing this article without including a show-stopping gumbo recipe would make every Louisianan heart break just a little. So… we found a gumbo recipe that only gets better with age (as in the longer you cook it, the more flavorful it becomes) that you can enjoy all weekend. This hearty stew gets its true Cajun taste from its homemade roux (a browned flour and oil base), its stewed tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, Cajun seasoning, and cayenne. And when you add shrimp and sausage, you’ve got an entire meal!
9. Cajun Dirty Rice
This authentic dish may not have the best history (it comes from a rather unpleasant time in the U.S.’s past), but it’s been since adopted and passed through generations as a true staple of Louisianan comfort food. This rice has tons of texture, and gusto, and is sure to transform your definition of rice forever. Find the recipe here.
10. Cajun Boil Foil Packets
Although cajun boil foil packets may look complicated to make, you can create your own using only your ingredients (shrimp, sausage, veggies, spices), some tin foil, and your oven. Simply toss all ingredients and spices with some butter, put into individual packets, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. By following this recipe, you can impress friends and family with your incredible culinary skills (while secretly thinking that this dish couldn’t have been easier to pull off).
Which of these Cajun dishes are you desperate to try out? Are you a fan of Cajun cooking like us? Tell us in the comments below!
featured image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/rBPtiHOY7nI
Anna Livia is a Junior Communications student at John Paul The Great Catholic University. Her hobbies include reading how-to guides on being an adult, exploring the many pockets around North Country (San Diego) and attempting whatever new pasta recipes appear on Pinterest. She hails form Los Angeles but aspires to live in Houston one day for a career in Magazine Editing (not to mention the low housing prices). Her perfect afternoon would include cats of any kind, hot cider, and Malcolm In The Middle.