Thursday, June 20, 2013

Seafood Pasta Salad

A seafood pasta salad made from crab, crawfish and shrimp, dressed with a Cajun seasoned buttermilk mayonnaise blend.

Seafood Pasta Salad

This is a great coastal Deep South seafood pasta salad that is pretty common down here, and I love it, although it's more often known as Imitation Crab Salad. Imitation crab scares some folks by virtue of that name, but it is generally a basic mix of Alaskan Pollock, King Crab meat and other seafood, and works great for salads like this, and, in fact, I like it better in this pasta salad.

Fresh crab, certainly much more pricey, may be used, but personally I prefer to save it for things like West Indies salad, crabmeat au gratin, gumbo, crab cakes or stuffed crab.

Frozen Louisiana crawfish tails have gotten a little bit high dollar per pound, even down here, so when crawfish are in season and we bring them home by the sackfuls, I always peel some to set aside in the freezer for recipes like this. The salad is plenty good even without them though.

I also usually have raw, headless shrimp in the shell put up in the freezer, so I use a smaller variation of my regular shrimp boil recipe to cook the shrimp and then use the water to boil the pasta shells. It gives the salad great flavor and a nice, fiery kick, so if you also do that, remember, do not add any salt, pepper, Old Bay or Cajun seasoning to the salad or to the dressing, without first tasting it.

Here's how to make it.

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Recipe: Seafood Pasta Salad

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings


For the Dressing:
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Creole mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, chopped
For the Salad:
  • 2 cups of dry medium pasta shells, cooked and drained
  • 1 pound package of small (51/60 count) cooked shrimp
  • 1 cup of cooked, peeled crawfish tails
  • 1 cup of fresh crab or 1 (8 ounce) package of imitation crab
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of chopped sweet bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup of chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped pickled jalapeno
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, only as needed, to taste

In the bottom of a large serving bowl or lidded storage bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients; set aside.

Prepare the pasta, drain and let cool. Place pasta in the bowl on top of the dressing. Add the seafood to the top of the pasta and sprinkle lightly with the Cajun seasoning and Old Bay. Add green onion, bell pepper, celery and jalapeno. Toss, taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper only if needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate until needed to further develop the flavors. If refrigerated, toss with a few splashes of milk to freshen before serving.

For Crab Salad: Use only crab, omit pasta and reduce mayonnaise and buttermilk by half to start, adjusting to desired consistency.

Cook's Notes: If you are boiling your own shrimp, reserve the leftover cooking water and use it to boil the pasta. It adds fantastic flavor to the salad, but remember, depending on the heat and seasoning used in your boil, do not add any salt, pepper, Old Bay or Cajun seasoning to the dressing or salad, until you taste the salad after it is dressed. When using my own shrimp boil, I don't add any additional salt, pepper, Old Bay or Cajun seasoning.


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Posted by on June 20, 2013
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  1. This sounds great Mary and I like the idea of cooking the pasta in the seafood water. We use imitation crab in some of our dishes and enjoy it.

    1. It really helps to bump up the spicy for those of us who like a little heat Larry!

  2. Mary quick good and easy side dish.Great tip cooking the pasta in the seafood water it would bring all the flavors together and they get all happy. The price of seafood has gone up I was shocked to see frozen bag of salad shrimp for $10 at my local store YIKES so I use the imitation crab-meat often, it's really good and it's perfect in dishes like this. Sometimes I sliced up a few cucumbers, used that crab-meat, drizzle some Italian dressing good little salad there. Have a nice weekend :)

    1. I don't know why some folks get all up in arms over imitation crab. Like you Tracey, I find it perfect for things like this!

  3. I usually make my roux when I cook my dinner but this one cooked in the oven and already made for me sounds great!

    1. The oven roux is wonderful to make ahead and keep on hand!!

  4. I made this and it is Wonderful! I got rave reviews from all the family members I served it to, they demand it to be in the regular rotation! Thank You Mary.

    1. You're welcome Kimberley! I'm so glad your family enjoyed it & thank you for taking the time to come back by and let me know!!

  5. Hi Mary,

    What if I need to make a large quantity for 60 people, how to increase the ingredients?

    1. Hi Lashawnda!! Assuming there will be plenty of other food there too, I'd say to multiply this by 5 or 6 for that many folks.

  6. HI Mary. I just printed the recipe for Seafood Pasta Salad and have a couple of questions. I live in Alberta, Canada. First, what is Creole Mustard...can I make my own or substitute? Second, for the crawfish tails, can I just add more shrimp? Any suggestions you have would be appreciated.
    Thanks, Val

    1. Hi Val! Creole mustard is just a grainy brown mustard as opposed to the standard yellow mustard. The seafood is pretty adaptable here and while crawfish does add a unique and different flavor, you may certainly just leave it out, or increase the crab, imitation crab or shrimp in place of it.

  7. Hello everyone! I was surfing the web for a great seafood salad and this one caught my attention. I haven't ever made a seafood salad so in excited as this will be my first. I'm taking this to my sister's as a contribution to the super bowl party hors d'oeuvres. I hope I make it as good as it looks here! I'll let you guys know the outcome! Have a great one!

    1. Hi Michelle & welcome to the Deep South Dish family!! I'm glad you found your way here and I hope that everybody at the party enjoyed your seafood salad!!

  8. One of my pet peeves are folks who comment and talk about how they changed everything in the recipe, etc., but I was craving some plain ol' sealeg (we call it) salad and couldn't think what to add to the sauce, so I thought to search your site, and sure enough, you have the perfect! sauce recipe (just used the sealegs, celery, and a little green onion.) You're the best! Never would have thought to use a little buttermilk! and the lemon juice! Thanks for sharing your expertise!


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