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Zox Kitchen

Zox Kitchen: May 8, 2014

Shrimp and Cannellini Beans:

A Culinary Odd Couple

Shrimp and beans? It almost seems like an odd combination. Shrimp and rice we call shrimp scampi. Yes. Shrimp cocktail? No question about it. Shrimp on a cold salad with a light vinaigrette? Or, curried shrimp? No doubt you have enjoyed more than one meal like these. But warm, white beans and shrimp? Do you think? Quite frankly it goes together surprisingly well. Not cold and not hot but almost room temperature or warm is an excellent combination. Indeed!

We are starting to see the little critters in Southeastern and Southern waters. May through July is the ideal time when shrimp begins to be fished for in the Texas waters of the Gulf and along the East Coast waters of South Carolina. The West Coast waters along the Veracruz Coast of Mexico carries these fresh crustaceans year round. And of course we all have become familiar with the frozen tiger shrimp of the Pacific Rim also available year round, but less tasty for my money than local varieties — frozen or fresh. Some critics argue that shrimp are unhealthy for us in general because of the way they are caught by trawlers. But of course so too are the preservatives and artificial ingredients of the faux shrimp. These are arguments for another day. For now let’s remain on issues of taste and flavor.

Of course, this year round accessibility of shrimp can too often influence us to lose our discriminating taste. But this is not to say that tiger shrimp stands up to the pink shrimp variety. Yet compromise is essential when that yen for shrimp calls. And as we expand our culinary horizons, we begin to find a greater variety of delicious choices. Beans and shrimp may meet your taste as well as mine. I have become a fan.

Shrimp And Cannellini Beans

Serves 4

Ingredients

• 1 lb package baby spinach

• 2 cups canned Cannellini white beans

• 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined leaving tail on

• 1 cup seeded and diced fresh plum tomatoes

• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

• 2 more tbsp extra virgin olive oil   

• 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar

• 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar juice

• Zest of 1/2 lemon

• 4 cloves garlic, sliced

• 1 tsp smoked paprika

• 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

• 1/2 cup whole basil leaves, removing stems, julienne cut

• Sea Salt

• Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Drain the beans over a bowl while leaving moist, and place in a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and bring the beans to a low simmer. Keep them warm while you prepare the shrimp.

Rinse and dry the spinach well. Toss with half the olive oil, 1 tsp sherry vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar. Set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in 3 smaller portions, season lightly with salt. Cook each portion for about 2 minutes until white, tossing frequently. Place each portion of shrimp in the same bowl.

Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the chili flakes and smoked paprika. Next add the tomato and basil and spinach and stir briefly until wilted, then add the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to reheat and toss briefly. Remove the mixture to a plate.

Spoon the white beans over the spinach and shrimp on a platter. Drizzle with excellent olive oil. Serve warm.

Please send comments, questions or observations of interest to Chef Alan at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it