Adapted from Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America’s Farmers
Shelling beans should be in good supply this season as growers have stepped up production to meet rising demand. When you purchase shrimp for this recipe, look for Pacific Coast wildcaught
pink shrimp, which are a Best Choice according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s SeafoodWATCH program (montereybayaquarium.org). If you can find wild-caught shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, purchasing them will be a way of helping support the fishermen impacted by the BP oil spill.
2 pounds fresh cranberry beans, cannellini beans, black-eyed peas, crowder peas, or other shelling
½ yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise, plus 1 large clove, finely minced
4 thyme sprigs
1½ quarts water
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ large red onion, halved again through the stem end, then very thinly sliced
¼ cup minced fresh Italian parsley
12 fresh basil leaves, torn into smaller pieces
2 innermost celery ribs, thinly sliced
1½ cups halved cherry tomatoes, preferably red and gold types
Red wine vinegar
18 large shrimp (about ¾ pound total), peeled and deveined
Remove the beans from their pods; you should have 3–3½ cups. Put them in a saucepan with the yellow onion half, garlic halves, thyme sprigs, and water. Bring to a simmer over moderate
heat, then cover partially and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the beans are tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their maturity. Season with salt and let cool in the liquid. The beans will be even tastier if prepared to this point 1 day ahead and refrigerated in their cooking liquid.
Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to high (450º to 500º).
Remove the onion, garlic, and thyme sprigs from the beans. Reheat the beans gently, just until warm. Drain (reserving the cooking liquid for soup, if desired), and transfer to a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, red onion, minced garlic, parsley, basil, and celery. Toss well. Add the cherry tomatoes and toss again gently. Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and a splash of wine vinegar.