Most of what I do comes down to what has inspired me, usually a shared experience with my girlfriend. We have dined at several of the best restaurants in Chicago such as Lula Cafe, Nightwood, and Blackbird, and some of the most popular restaurants like Girl & The Goat and Frog & Snail. In the case of this shrimp and white bean plate, we enjoyed an intimate dinner at Harbor House in Milwaukee. Blessed with a stunning view, great wine suggestions, and oysters from coast to coast, our meal was full of highlights. I enjoyed pan-roasted red snapper with crispy skin, roasted sweet potatoes and caramelized brussel sprouts, and an intoxicating beurre rouge, a brown butter and red wine sauce. The single best fish dish I have ever had. While I wouldn’t dare try to imitate a dish I hold up on a pedestal of perfection, we were intrigued by the potential of a shared appetizer that was not perfectly executed, but was a thoughtful combination of flavors. Here’s my take…
Shrimp & White Beans – 8 servings
- 24 large shrimp, deveined and shell removed from meat but not tail
- 2 cups dry white beans
- 6 roma tomatoes, medium dice
- 1/2 red onion, very thinly julienned
- 1 bunch arugula
- 1/2 cup basil, julienned
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 6 sage leaves
- 1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp honey
- juice of lemon
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
In a medium saucepan, cover white beans w/6 cups cold water and add bay leaves, rosemary, sage, and whole peppercorns. Bring to a boil, take off heat, and let steep for 45 minutes. Drain the water and cover w/fresh water. Simmer on medium low heat until cooked, but not mushy, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove aromatics and divide into two equal piles. Set half aside. With the other half, combine in a food processor w/one quarter cups of the water the beans cooked in, w/juice of lemon, salt, and pepper. Pulse to create a puree, then slowly drizzle in olive oil to create a smoothly textured puree.
Combine the other beans w/tomatoes, red onion, arugula, honey, basil, juice of lemon to taste, salt and pepper to taste.
Heat two large saute pans on medium high heat. Add oil, it should shimmer on the pan when swirling, add the shrimp and create a hard sear for 2-3 minutes, flip and repeat. Time depends on size of shrimp, be careful of overcooking.