Monday, December 19, 2011

a salad for all places

Maybe you’re expecting a detailed account of everything I cooked for Thanksgiving. If so, I am sorry to disappoint you. My mother-in-law hosted and made a lovely spread and I hardly cooked at all. Between writing about turkey for a solid month straight, traveling with an excited little dog, and being plain exhausted, I fell short in the cooking department this year. Of course I tried—I had a slight hissy fit about not being able to make my favorite cranberry sauce. (Mom beat me to it with her own spiced version, delicious in its own right.)

In the end, I made two things: spiced cashews and goat cheese-topped stuffed mushrooms. Which were just fine, not worth repeating here. We sat around the pool, and Mabel bounced from lap to lap and then we stuffed ourselves silly with turkey and stuffing. Which led to the entire family sitting around in a tryptophan haze watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and giggling. A Thanksgiving first.

Before Thanksgiving, I made fish tacos for my parents, using avocados from their backyard tree that had ripened perfectly on the kitchen windowsill. Every time I go to Florida, I get avocado tree angst. And kitchen windowsill angst.

The one recipe I’d like to share is from way before Thanksgiving. It’s a shrimp and white bean salad which I served as a starter before some sweet potato ravioli. The salad is nothing more than chopped cooked shrimp mixed with plump white beans but it's more than the sum of its parts. 
Bright and fresh from copious amounts of fresh parsley and a generous squeeze of lemon, it’s the sort of salad you want to eat with a glass of white wine on a breezy patio. Or maybe gazing out of your kitchen window looking at your avocado tree. Or in a small apartment, far away from all of that, in Brooklyn.

Shrimp with Cannellini Beans
Adapted from Urban Italian. You can substitute soaked dried beans for the canned, but the canned beans work just fine for me--and save a lot of time.
(Serves 4 people)
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 4 Tbsp.
2 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup parsley, plus 2 Tbsp., minced
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 lb. rock shrimp (or tiger shrimp, peeled, deveined, and split in half, head to tail)
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
Drain and rinse the beans in a colander. Combine the beans, onion, olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, and parsley in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the mixture aside.
Rinse the shrimp and blot dry with a paper towel. In a skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shrimp, turn the heat to low, and cook until the shrimp begin to turn white - about 1 minute.

Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes. Continue cooking for 1 minute, until the fragrance of the garlic is released. Turn off the heat and add the remaining 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and the thyme, rosemary, juice of the other lemon, parsley, salt and pepper.

Arrange the beans on a serving plate and pile the shrimp mixture over the top. (Or, you can add the shrimp to the beans and mix the whole thing together) Serve hot or cold.

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