Northern Italians combine their beloved white, or cannellini, beans with a seemingly infinite variety of ingredients.
Shrimp and white beans may seem like an unusual combination, but it is utterly traditional. The dish consists of beans lightly cooked with shrimp, vegetables and herbs until the flavors blend. The combination works to great effect; the sweetness of the mild, creamy beans is the perfect foil to the briny, chewy shrimp.
Canned beans passed muster and are the heart of this dish, but the shrimp play the starring role.
We looked for a cooking method that would boost the flavor of the shrimp and found that searing on the stovetop worked best. We seasoned the shrimp with sugar, salt and pepper, then added them to a smoking-hot skillet.
Within 90 seconds, they were perfectly cooked, seared on the outside as if they’d been grilled, and moist on the inside.
We also briefly cooked red onion, red bell pepper and garlic, which kept their flavors fresh and their texture appealingly crunchy.
Tasters loved arugula in this dish as opposed to herbs like basil and rosemary. Its gentle peppery bite successfully married all of the other flavors.
Although we prefer this dish warm, it may be eaten chilled as a salad or antipasto.
SHRIMP WITH WHITE BEANS
By America’s Test Kitchen
- 1 pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
- Pinch sugar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped fine
- 1 small red onion, chopped fine
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed
- 2 ounces (2 cups) baby arugula, chopped coarse
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and season with sugar, salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high until just smoking.
Add shrimp in single layer and cook, without stirring, until spotty brown and edges turn pink on first side, about 1 minute (cooking time is for extra-large shrimp; for smaller or larger shrimp, adjust the cooking time).
Remove skillet from heat, flip shrimp and let sit until opaque throughout, about 30 seconds. Transfer shrimp to bowl and cover to keep warm.
Heat remaining 4 tablespoons oil in now-empty skillet over medium until shimmering. Add bell pepper, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in beans and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.
Add arugula and shrimp along with any juices and gently toss until arugula is wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 421 calories, 20 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 143 mg cholesterol, 860 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 10 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 26 g protein.