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Can you feel it? Can you taste it? Can you smell it? (Ok, maybe not smell it, right now all I can smell is the dog tooting up a storm because I made the mistake of sneaking him a few bites of chicken last night after dinner.) Anyhow...Fall is almost here! Despite the fact that Target started trotting out Halloween decorations the minute 4th of July ended, it didn't really feel like autumn was approaching to me until this week. Just within the last few days there's been a distinct change in the feeling of the seasons.


The calendar says September 22nd is the official first day of fall but already I can feel the nights are getting crisper, soups are starting to show up on restaurant menus and cardigans are starting to be taken out of the closets by all the hipsters in Midtown. I'm excited, I love fall! It's the best season (and no, it's not because Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes are being sold-- truth be told, I don't even like them.) I just love how autumn feels. It's like Goldilocks and the Three Bears- all the other seasons are too hot, too cold, too wet...fall is just perfect. It could be because I was born in the fall and an autumn baby thus biased...but c'mon who doesn't love: hot apple cider, rainbow colored leaves, The Great Pumpkin and roaring fireplaces? I can't wait! In the meantime, I'm bridging the gap between seasons with recipes like this rustic shrimp and white bean dish that I adapted from a recipe I dug up from ol' Michael Chiarello (you know that really pompous Napa chef that was on Top Chef Masters awhile back. I was seriously hoping someone would have enough of his BS and stick a BBQ fork in his testicles at some point during that season). Anyhow, I made some tweaks to the recipe to suit my palate and the dish went over very well at the dinner table (aka no kidlets whining). The heirloom tomatoes bring about a nice taste of summer freshness to the dish but the heartiness of the beans and shrimp give the plate a stick-to-your-ribs quality that make it a good choice for the fall as well.


 
Rustic Shrimp and White Beans with Heirloom Tomato Sauce
(based on Michael Chiarello's Tuscan Shrimp and White Beans recipe)

Ingredients

2 cups canned cannellini white beans
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. med shrimp, peeled and deveined
4-5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 dried chiles de árbol (crushed)
1 cup peeled, seeded and diced fresh heirloom tomatoes
4 oz. Mexican chorizo (or Soyrizo)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup whole fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley-chopped

Instructions

1. Drain the cannellini beans and reserve the liquid.

2. Place the beans in a large skillet with 2-3 tablespoons of the bean liquid. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bring to a simmer. Set aside. Keep warm while you prepare the rest of your dish.

3. In a separate skillet, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over high heat. Add shrimp. Season with salt, cook for 1 minute. Remove shrimp with tongs, set aside in a bowl. Add garlic to empty skillet. Sauté until fragrant, add chiles de árbol  and chorizo (or Soyrizo), cook for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and basil. Stir. Add lemon juice and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. 

4. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add in shrimp and cannellini beans. Mix well. Cook for another minute to reheat shrimp.

5. Spoon onto plate. Sprinkle with parsley.
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