The following originally appeared on 4/20/09 at Exit 51.
Notes On A Recipe – Bon Appetit Shrimp and Garlicky Beans with Feta
Every dog may have its day, but there’s no telling how long that day may be in coming. If that dog happens to be named Bon Appetit’s Garlicky Beans with Feta and Mint, it is my sincere hope that I never see that day in my lifetime. Since going all South Beach in the kitchen, I have tried to overcome my dislike of garbanzo beans. There’s something about their texture that just does not work for me. They’re not gritty on the tongue but they’re not smooth either. Maybe because they are unlike any other food I enjoy eating, I can’t get past my consistency prejudice. And calling them chickpeas isn’t fooling me.
The most outrageous thing about my hate/hate relationship with garbanzo beans is that I like hummus. Crazy right? I should clarify that position. Plain hummus elicits my anti-garbanzo stance. But add a good helping of roasted red peppers to the recipe (to mask the chickpea) and I will gladly double dip my veggies all the livelong day.
When I read the Garlicky Beans with Feta and Mint recipe in that new cookbook of mine, I thought maybe I had found a way to move past the hate. It might have two cans of chickpeas, but it’s also got an entire cup of feta cheese. On a daily basis, I cannot find enough ways to love feta. Especially a nice chunk of French Feta soaking in sharp brine. For real, if there is a heaven, I hope they stock the French Feta from Wegmans.
I decided to make the fetafied beans the base for Bon Appetit’s Shrimp with Shallot Tarragon Sauce. That recipe actually calls for it to be served on a bed of wilted spinach. But I was trying to stack the deck so that maybe, just maybe, the entire meal wouldn’t be a bust if I couldn’t embrace the beans.
In theory, it was a good idea. In reality, not so much. Aside from the fact that even French Feta doesn’t have enough superpowers to make chickpeas taste like anything other than chickpeas, the mint in the beans really did not work with the flavors of the shrimp.
Let us also consider the implications of having one cup of feta cheese, a quarter of a stick of butter, and cream in a single meal. Rich? That would be an understatement. Instead of being silky and luscious, it was heavy. I thought about subbing out the butter for a butter blend product instead, to try and keep the dish as South Beach friendly as possible, but ended up going with the real deal although I did use half in half instead of heavy cream. And still, it was too much.
Maybe the wilted spinach works to balance the richness of the sauce and my substitution doomed the dish from the get go? Who knows? I do know that I won’t be trying this combo again. The shrimp I will give another chance to win me over. Add the spinach, take out the butter and cream all together, and I think I’ve got a good weeknight dinner option. As long as that dog named Garlicky Beans with Feta and Mint doesn’t come barking around,I think we’ll be just fine.
Garlicky Beans with Feta and Mint
Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh
- 2 15 oz to 16 oz cans garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combined first 4 ingredients in 11×7×2 inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to blend. Bake until heated through and beans begin to crisp on top, about 15 minutes. Mix in cheese and mint.
Shrimp with Shallot Tarragon Sauce on Wilted Spinach
Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh
- 10 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 3 tablespoons oilve oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
- 5 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon, divided
- 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger, divided
- 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2 large)
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1 6oz package fresh baby spinach
Toss shrimp, parsley, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 teaspoons tarragon, and 1 teaspoon ginger in medium bowl. Sprinkle mixture with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; saute 5 minutes. Add shrimp mixture; saute until shrimp are almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add butter and cream; bring just to simmer. Add remaining 1 teaspoon ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Set shrimp aside.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in another large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add spinach and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until just wilted; about 30 seconds. Mound spinach in center of plates; surround with shrip and sauce. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining 2 teaspoons tarragon.