4.02.2010

Walkabout

Spring arrives on the Seacoast in fits and starts.  It might be 75 degrees today, 35 degrees tomorrow.  With longer days the city comes alive, crowds spilling out from cafes to fill sidewalk tables, faces turned to the sun.  In the garden, snowdrops and tulips have pushed through the ground and it won't be long before oregano and mint make their appearance.

On most days, I'll put on sneakers and head out for a brisk spin through town.  Along the river and across Prescott Park, a quick stop at the post office, through Market Square and past the library - old and new - a loop around the South Mill Pond and back into the narrow streets and jumbled rooftops of the South End.  I pass two neighborhood favorites, and if I've thought to bring enough money with me, I may stop in here and - better yet - here.  Which, quite often, is a mistake.  A little of this, a little of that. . . a little more of that.  I can't help myself and now I'm loaded down with gorgeous mussels, shrimp, a crisp white wine, generous wedges of Humboldt Fog and Parmesan cheeses, Kalamata olives.  Serious nibbling will most likely ensue. . .



































Once the prep work is done, this recipe is a cinch to make.  And you might find that it tastes just as good cold or at room temperature, as it does hot.   I like the convenience of good quality canned beans and they work well in this dish, so don't hesitate to use them.

- Doreen

Shrimp and White Bean Cassoulet
from Laura Pensiero, as published in Oprah Magazine

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes or 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dry white wine (optional)
2-1/2 cups cooked white beans or 2 (14.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1/3 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly spray six 8-ounce ramekins or a 1-1/2-quart baking dish with olive oil cooking spray or lightly coat with olive oil.

In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add leeks, garlic and pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until leeks soften (do not brown), 3 to 4 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high.  Add shrimp and 3 tablespoons parsley; cook, stirring frequently, until shrimp just begin to turn pink, about 1 minute.  Stir in flour and salt until combined.  Stir in wine, if desired; cook 30 seconds.  Add beans and broth; cook, stirring, until mixture just comes to a simmer.  Transfer mixture to ramekins (or baking dish).

In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, remaining tablespoon olive oil, and remaining tablespoon parsley.  Layer bread crumb mixture over top of filled ramekins.  Bake until shrimp mixture is hot and tops are lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.



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