When I was young, I was a pretty picky eater. I basically ate flour tortillas and cheese. Throw in a green pepper, or a cucumber, or two. And that pretty much summed up my diet. Luckily, I’ve grown a lot since then, but there was always one thing I stayed away from even throughout my early twenties: beans. I just couldn’t handle the texture or the smell of the liquid in the can. They grossed me out to no end. But, my husband, on the other hand…well, beans are pretty much his favorite food. For the past 8 years that we’ve been together he has tried to change my perception of beans. And for some reason, this year, he succeeded. Back in the winter, I caved in when my mom made pasta fagioli on Christmas Eve (an awesome recipe for another time). She had made it for years, but I always refused to eat it. This time I gave it a shot and I finally learned what I was missing! Since then, I’ve incorporated beans into a number of our dinners, and yesterday I made one of my new favorites. It is super easy and only calls for a few ingredients:
- Olive oil
- 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 dried chiles de árbol
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound medium shrimp
- 1 1/4 cups chopped tomato or a can of diced tomatoes (I like the fire roasted tomatoes by Muir Glen)
- Pinches of Kosher salt, ground pepper
- 2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (Penzey’s has the best, but I had to settle for Kroger Private Selection this time around)
- Chopped flat-leaf parsley
To start, season the shrimp in a bowl with one or two of the garlic cloves, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Toss with a little bit of olive oil and set aside. Then preheat the broiler while also heating a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet on the stove top. Stir in the last garlic clove, chiles (chopped or whole, it’s up to you, depending on the heat factor you like), and bay leaf for about 1-2 minutes. Then quickly, so that the garlic doesn’t burn, add the tomato and season with some salt and pepper; this takes about 5 minutes or so. Then follow up with the beans and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Keep it cooking until the broth reduces a bit, and of course, add in a bit more salt and pepper. The whole process takes about 10 minutes tops.
Really, so simple and quick! Finally, top the skillet with the shrimp and place it in the oven for roughly three minutes. Once the shrimp is cooked, feel free to add a bit more olive oil to the top, and sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Serve with warm bread.
This dish was originally taken from a Bon Appetit recipe that uses fresh tomatoes and tomato paste. I’ve had the dish both ways and they are pretty comparable. This time around, however, I didn’t have the fresh tomatoes on hand. Enjoy!