GARLICKY SHRIMP WITH WHITE BEANS AND SAUSAGE
I can eat this satisfying dish any day of the week anytime of the year. And so we do. The creaminess of the beans highlights the subtle crunchiness of the sausage and shrimp and the smoky paprika rounds out the party. Speaking of shrimp, I am prompted to go on a not-so-gentle diatribe here. Shrimp, and all fish, vary in quality. The best shrimp (and fish) will always be wild-caught and preferably from our waters. If the only shrimp I can find is farm-raised, I will put off cooking this dish to another night. Farm-raised fish is yucky in so many ways, not the least of which is their lack of flavor and, often, their iodine-y sting to the palate.
¾ pound wild-caught medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb pound linguica, or other smoked sausage such as chorizo, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 loaf crusty bread such as baguette
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
alt and freshly ground pepper
1 Bay leaf
One 14.5 oz. can chopped tomatoes with their juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Two 15-ounce cans white beans such as cannellini or Great Northern, rinsed and drained
1 cup chicken broth
Parmesan cheese, for serving
Put the shrimp in a bowl with some of the garlic (a half-teaspoon or so), 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Lightly crush the oregano between your fingers and sprinkle it onto the mixture. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat the shrimp.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning once or twice, until brown. Add the remaining garlic and the bay leaf and cook, stirring, just until fragrant. Try not to let the garlic brown as it will become bitter. Now pour in the tomatoes with their juice along with the smoked paprika and a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Cook, squishing the tomatoes with the back of a spoon until they have melted into a chunky sauce, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and continue to cook and stir for 5 minutes more.
Stir in the beans and broth and cook at a bubbly simmer until the mixture has thickened a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until it is pink and cooked through, about 3 minutes more.
At my house, we dust the top of the beans with a flurry of Parmesan before serving and make sure we have lots of crusty bread on hand for dipping.