We began cruising the produce department, Zach's eyes wide, taking in the array of exotic fruits and vegetables. He wondered if we should buy an enormous jack fruit to put in his sister's lunchbox as a joke. We opted for a dragon fruit instead. We picked up some baby bokchoy and wasabi peas before heading to the seafood counter to source our dinner. We walked slowly down the length of the counter, looking at all of the beautiful whole fish and other seafood. Zach even struck up a conversation with a fishmonger and inquired about the snails and octopus. I loved watching his genuine curiosity and lack of shyness. I loved the fact that he is interested in food and cooking. I loved the fact that were were going to have a fresh fish to prepare for dinner that night. Or were we?
My dreams of a fish dinner came to a screeching halt when we happened upon the very last section of the seafood department. "Crawdads!", Zach yelled. He has been having a bit of an obsession with crawfish ever since the Super Bowl in New Orleans, earlier in the month. We had wanted to have a crawfish boil that day, but had not found any live ones for our pot and ended up with red beans and rice instead. So, after his month long wait, he was finally going to get his crawfish boil. I let him pick out some to take home with us. He took his time picking out the "best" ones with the tongs and carefully placing them in the bag of ice. I should have known we had a problem, when the child inquired if the crustaceans could breathe in the bag.
Of course, I could not write a recipe for a crawfish boil, or pasta or dip after this crazy, yet heartwarming story. So, a vegetarian dip, inspired by all the goodness of a Cajun crawfish dip is what is on the menu for today.
Cajun Crawdaddy-less Dip:
2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 celery rib, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup dice red onion
1/2 cup sliced scallions, green and white parts
3 garlic cloves, grated on microplane
1 cup of thawed yellow corn
1 8oz block neufchâtel cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
8 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (divided)
1 teaspoon creole seasoning
1 teaspoon old bay
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Chopped parsleyfor garnish
Heat Olive oil in a skillet over medium- high heat and add the celery, pepper, red onion and scallions. Allow vegetables to soften, while stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Add, garlic, corn and seasonings. Stir to combine and cook two more minutes.
Place Neufchâtel, parmesan and 4oz of cheddar in a medium bowl along with vegetables. Stir to combine.
Place ingredients into a medium sized baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and beginning to brown slightly on top. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired and serve with crudités or a crusty baguette.