College football has begun, and I can’t help but miss tailgating at Wake Forest and September in the south. In North Carolina, it doesn’t start getting “cold” until November or December, really. That means that the weather is unbeatable during football games….. the season starts off with the sun warming your face and ends with a slight crispness, as you’re bundled up in a hoodie.
Although North Carolina isn’t the deep South, it still has a similar culture…. the friendliness, the slower place, the deep fried flavors, and the love for the rest of the South. While students who go to college in Massachusetts may go on a ski & snowboard trip up in Vermont, students who attend Wake Forest can easily take trips to cities like Hilton Head, Charleston and Savannah. Being so close to so many iconic Southern cities fueled my yearning to experience more of the South and resulted in my desire to visit New Orleans….
After college, I made two trips down to New Orleans and fell in love with everything cajun: the music, the French influence (I minored in French in college), and of course, the spicy cuisine and flavors…. Technically, this dish might be considered creole, because of the use of tomatoes (a cajun jambalaya doesn’t have tomatoes, but a creole one does)…. whether it’s creole or cajun, it’s all so mouthwatering.
Oh, let’s not forget the beignets….
If you’re into spicy seasonings like ground cayenne, smoked paprika, and fresh black pepper, you’ll love today’s recipe. I was pleased to see okra at the farmer’s market and wanted to prepare it in a healthier way than it’s usually served…. fried. Okra doesn’t have a distinct flavor but absorbs seasonings very well…. I am definitely on Team Okra…. I wish there was more of it up in the Northeast.
Just remember.. it’s “New-OAR-luhns,” not “New-ore-LEANS.”
Instructions with Pictures
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the ear of corn in a baking tray. Lightly coat with olive oil and season with the chili powder and salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes and then set aside.
Place the diced tomatoes in a baking tray coated with cooking spray. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and roast for 10 minutes, alongside the corn. When done, set aside.
While the tomatoes and corn are roasting, place the bacon in a skillet (or skillets) and cook until your crispy preference, about 3 minutes per side.
Once the bacon is done, transfer (using tongs or a slotted spoon) to a plate topped with a paper towel.
In the same skillet with the bacon fat juices, add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then, add in the red pepper flakes, cook for 30 seconds and then add in the onions and okra.
Cook the vegetables for about 3-4 minutes or until okra is softened.
Add in the tomatoes, cajun seasoning, smoked paprika and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2-3 minutes and then add in the shrimp.
Cook until the shrimps are just about cooked and then add in the zucchini noodles. Cook the noodles, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes.
While the noodles are cooking, break up the bacon into pieces. Once the noodles are done, add in the bacon pieces.
Plate the pasta into bowls and top with corn by shaving off the kernels with a knife. Enjoy!