There’s way more to the food scene of New Orleans than beignets, all-you-can-eat oysters and those neon-colored drinks peddled up and down Bourbon Street. Louisiana’s unique political history and setting as a cultural crossroads throughout the 19th century helped create a distinctively American style of cooking, which has come to be known as Cajun and Creole Cuisine. Equal parts French, Haitian and Spanish and West African, each wave of immigrants contributed their own flavors, ingredients and cooking techniques to the proverbial gumbo pot.
While each of these cuisines have their own signature dishes and distinctions, they share some common ground, such as an abundance of shellfish from the gulf, smoked meats like Andouille sausage, the use of rice and okra, and rich saucy preparations like Fricassee. The most common thread of all though just might be mirepoix, also known as the holy trinity of celery, carrots, and onion that serves as the base to build layers of flavor for virtually any dish. Celebrity Chefs like Emeril Lagasse and the late Paul Prudhomme helped bring Cajun and Creole cuisines out of obscurity and into the limelight in the 1990s, and today we can’t get enough of the saucy, bold and deliciously zesty dishes of the Bayou. We get that you don’t have all day to spend building roux and simmering pots of Étouffée, so here’s a round up of some quick and easy recipes we’ve developed that help bring a little bit of that Big Easy flair into your kitchen.
1. Cajun Shrimp and Grits
2. N’awlins Shrimp Po’Boy
3. Cajun Tilapia with Jambalaya Pilaf
Hungry for more? Check out more Cajun and Creole-inspired recipes here!