One of the wonderful pairings in Italian Cuisine is when Seafood and beans come together in the same dish. Sometimes it’s a cold or room temperature pairing, almost like a sidedish, often it’s all stewed together, seafood going in at the end so it’s not overcooked. Then there’s what I’m doing with this dish, GAMBERI E FAGIOLI CON VERDURE E PEPERONI SOTT’ACETO. Shrimp and Beans with Greens and Red Vinegar Peppers. This colorful dish came together one night after I spent too much time scrolling thru my Instagram feed and kept seeing these seafood and bean dishes (ocassionally pasta would be added too) . What often happens to homecooks is we get “stuck” in the cooking we know, what we saw growing up, what we were fed, our own regional dishes. Being a second generation ItalianAmerican much of my cooking and cooking knowhow comes from my parents and grandparents generations, stretching back 125 years ago and reflective of their cooking, both ethnically and regionally. In today’s modern Italy, Italian culture has evolved with lots of dishes crisscrossing the globe and intraregionally in Italy and there’s lots they make over there that my family never got to see/try. New things are added all the time, food is not static, it’s dynamic so keep and open mind when it comes to cooking. I’m thinking perhaps these seafood and bean dishes are part of that evolution, or I just missed them altogether. Having said all that, they are an amazing combination and one night I decided to create my own dish using a few Italian ingredients. LET’S COOK!!!
GAMBERI E FAGIOLI CON VERDURE E PEPERONI SOTT’OLIO
FOR 4 TAKES: 2 HOURS OR LESS
1 1/2 LBS 16-20 PEELED AND DEVEINED SHRIMP
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL AS NEEDED
1/2 CUP SIFTED FLOUR (ITALIAN TIPO 00 IS GREAT FOR THIS)
PINCH OF SALT, PAPRIKA, BLACK PEPPER
1 CUP CHOPPED DANDELION, OR SWISS CHARD, OR BROCCOLI RABE, OR SPINACH
3 CLOVES GARLIC, SLICED
1/2 CUP SLICED RED VINEGAR PEPPERS, OR SLICED ROASTED RED PEPPERS YOU MARINATED IN RED WINE VINEGAR FOR 12 HOURS
3 CANS CANNELLINI (WHITE KIDNEY BEANS) RESERVING THE LIQUID FROM 2 CANS OR 4 CUPS OF HOME COOKED CANNELLINI, RESERVING A CUP OF THE COOKING WATER
1 BAY LEAF
1 CUP WATER OR STOCK (CHICKEN WORKS, SEAFOOD STOCK WORKS)
1 TBS VERMOUTH OR BRANDY
SEA SALT, SALT and BLACK PEPPER AS NEEDED
1 TSP FRESH LEMON ZEST
In a large dutch oven, heat about 3 tbs. of olive oil and add the garlic, peperoncino and bay leaf. When the garlic is fragrant add the beans and toss with the garlic and olive oil. Now add the Vermouth or Brandy…ok, don’t have them? don’t run out and by something just for one dish…use White wine. it’s ok. the other two give an additional flavor being that they are a bit next level in flavor but, don’t need to go out of your way here. Then add the beans, toss around.. then add the can’s liquid or cooking liquid and the stock. Bring to a boil then reduce. Without burning your tongue taste the broth. If it needs seasoning add more salt and pepper here. This was it cooks into the beans. Cover this and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
While that’s simmering time to make the shrimp. Dredge in the seasoned flour, shake off excess, and fry just till golden on each side in olive oil about 2 minutes per side. You want these to be just about done, then remove to a platter and lightly cover with foil.
Back to the beans. Remove the cover and stir well. Drop in the peppers and greens and blend in, cover and simmer for 6 minutes. Remove the lid and let this cook another 5 minutes then remove from the heat. Stir. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, then remove that bay leaf and ladle into 4 bowls. Top each bowl with equal amounts of shrimp and drizzle with a good Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and a grating of fresh Lemon zest. Done. Enjoy!!!
HAPPY COOKING AND BUON APPETITO!!!