May is a busy month. Steve and I have prepared the garden for entertaining, put the boat in the water, navigated the holiday, birthdays, anniversary and all of the celebrations that go along with the month of May.
Tonight Steve and I are dining alone, which is a gift considering how busy we have been lately. When we focus on gathering, it can mean a group or just another person catching up. One of the pleasures of being in a relationship is designing the schedule so we can have time together. We have so much to process with whirlwind month it’s nice to have an easy dinner together.
I have no idea what to cook but I go into the kitchen remembering something about one of the Splendid Table episodes. The first thing you do is walk into the kitchen and turn on the oven, so that’s what I did. I want something nice, easy and fresh. My mind wanders to the cannellini beans I have in the freezer, the last of the bounty from the fresh beans I bought and quick freeze every summer so I can have them in the cooler months without the overnight soak. Many of you know, soups and stews are my comfort food. They are easy, forgiving and abundant, feeding many of us for the better part of the week. I prepared the beans and put them in the oven for a slow braise at 225 degrees for 1 ½ hr. I go through a mental inventory of what I have: a fennel bulb and Tuscan kale in the fridge and Swiss chard in the garden, onions in the pantry, Shrimp in the freezer. Humm…this is starting to come together nicely!
Grilled Shrimp over Kale and Cannellini Bean Stew
For the stew:
The stew can be refrigerated and served as a vegetarian stew or feel free to add chicken, cooked sausage, etc. This can easily serve as my lunch for the week. Any leftovers freeze beautifully for an easy weeknight supper. In this case, the grilled shrimp goes so well over it but I don’t keep any seafood over 24 hours.
- 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
- 1 Cup chopped Onion
- 1 Fennel Bulb, Chopped or substitute 2 stalks of Celery
- 1 Bunch of Tuscan Kale, Washed and Chopped
- 2 cups of Vegetable or light Chicken Stock
- 2 Cups of Prepared Cannellini in their broth or substitute canned*
- Salt, Pepper and dried pepper flakes to taste
- Chopped Parsley and Fennel Fronds for garnish
For the Grilled Shrimp:
- 1 Pound Large Shrimp cleaned and deveined
- 1 clove Garlic, chopped
- ¼ Cup of white wine vinegar (I used a tarragon vinager)
- ½ cup olive oil
- a pinch of hot pepper flakes
- 1 lemon, cut into thin slices
For the Stew:
Heat the Olive Oil in a Dutch oven. Add the onion and sauté until translucent on low heat, about 7-10 minutes. The onions should be pale yellow from the olive oil – do not brown them. Add the fennel and sauté until soft, add the chopped kale, vegetable stock, Canellini Beans, 1 teaspoon of salt, a few grinds of pepper and a pinch of the red pepper flakes and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Adjust the seasonings adding salt, Pepper and pepper flakes as needed.
Make Ahead: The bean Stew can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight. Heat before continuing.
To prepare the shrimp:
Add all ingredients to a gallon plastic bag, press the air out and seal. Make sure all of the ingredients are coated and place the bag in a bowl on the counter at room temperature for 30 – 45 minutes, turning the bag to evenly coat the shrimp.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Grill the shrimp over indirect heat until they turn pink and become charred on the tails, about 5 minutes. Take care not to overcook.
Ladle the warm beans in their broth into a shallow bowl. Divide the shrimp evenly and decoratively (5-6 shrimp per portion) between each serving, garnish with chopped parsley and fennel fronds and serve immediately
* If using canned beans, rinse them in a strainer and increase the stock to 4 cups.
For 2 cups of White Beans:
Adapted from The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert
I love this way to prepare beans. They come out perfectly plump after a long braise!Just check after an hour in the oven but don’t forget them. How low maintenance is that? Another easy preparation is the crock pot. Any leftover beans freeze beautifully. I often prepare an entire pound of beans, freezing any leftovers for a soup later that month.
- 1 Cup dried Cannellini or other white beans
- 3 garlic Cloves, Peeled and Smashed
- 3 Sage Leaves
- 1 Bay Leaf
- splash of Olive Oil
- Salt, Pepper and a pinch of dried pepper flakes