Tuesday, June 26, 2012

White Beans with Shrimp

Cool beans!

White beans--packed with protein, calcium and iron--are a meal in themselves. Paired with seafood, poultry or beef, they are a welcome change to the familiar potato and rice normally served as a side dish.

And they're easy to prepare.

They're also quite forgiving and adaptable. Don't be afraid to add whatever you like. Had I some Kalamata or Greek olives, I would have added them to this dish. You could just as easily add some crumbled Feta instead of the Parm.

White beans paired with fresh shrimp sauteed in olive oil, garlic and lemon.

You could also easily swap out the spinach and rosemary and add some chopped, fresh basil. In fact, you don't even need the spinach. But the artist in me wanted the color. You could also use a fresh tomato or two, but since such luxuries are not available in the dead of winter, I went with canned to make this a pretty simple "dump" recipe.

Since I live in the South, I have access to smoked pork jowl which I used in this recipe. Use several slices of bacon as a substitute and then remove them before serving. I like my celery larger than a dice. The bit of crunch contrasts well with the creamy beans.

  • 2, 15-ounce cans Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained (about 3 cups)
  • 1, 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3/4 cup roughly-chopped celery
  • 1-2 teaspoons minced jalapeno, seeded
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2-3 chunks smoked hog jowl (about 1/2 inch thick, 2" x 4") or several pieces smoked bacon cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock plus additional to add during the cooking
  • 1 tablespoon minced, fresh rosemary (or to taste)
  • 2-3 ounces fresh, baby spinach leaves, stems removed (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt to taste (beans take a lot of salt, so be sure to taste and adjust)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a medium Dutch oven, melt a bit of butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and hog jowl. Cook just until veggies get a bit tender. Add the jalapeno and garlic. Stir until fragrant. Add the white wine and allow to steam a bit to get rid of the alcohol. Add the 1/4 cup chicken stock and allow to heat up. Then add the drained tomatoes and beans. Add about 1 teaspoon salt. Mix. Cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, adding more chicken stock if necessary.

The beans really only need to heat through since they are already cooked. After abut 15 minutes or so, taste and re-season if necessary. Stir in the rosemary and one tablespoon of butter until melted. Gently fold in the spinach until wilted. Gently fold in cheese. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes or so. Don't be afraid to add more chicken stock if necessary. That's it. Serve and enjoy!

Paired with summer's fresh garden bounty, white beans are an economical but luxurious meal.