Tuscan Twosome: Panzanella Salad & Shrimp with White Beans, Tomatoes, and Basil

I adore tomatoes.

Nothing beats the taste of fresh, all-natural, juicy tomatoes — and you can find them everywhere now.

I really wanted to feature these tasty beauties in something refreshing and full of flavor…while pushing my culinary limits a bit. 

I think I succeeded.

The Recipes:

Panzanella Salad/Tuscan Bread Salad, inspired by the recipe here from StoneGable.blogspot.com and from the recipe found in Cook’s Illustrated, July/August 2011

1 loaf of rustic Italian bread, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil (divided into 2 T and 6T)

salt

oregano

thyme

2 packages of grape tomatoes (about 1 1/2 –  2 pounds), cut in half

3 T red wine vinegar

1 cucumber, quartered and sliced thinly

3 green onions, sliced thinly

1/4 c fresh basil, chopped

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss bread with first 2 T oil and 1/4 t salt.  Place bread in single layer on rimmed cookie sheet.  Generously season with dried oregano and thyme.  Toast bread until they just begin to brown, about 15 – 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Remove and let cool.

Gently toss tomatoes and 1/2 t salt in colander.  Set over bowl to collect juices for about 15 minutes.  Stir gently once or twice in those 15 minutes.

Combine bread pieces, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, and basil in large bowl. 

Whisk remaining oil and vinegar into the reserved tomato juice.   Add to bread and tomato mix, toss gently and serve.

Tuscan Shrimp with White Beans, Tomatoes, and Basil, adapted from this recipe from Food.com

Beans:

3 (16 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 c chopped onion

3 T red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 t oregano

1/4 t pepper

Combine all bean ingredients and heat on medium low.

Shrimp:

1/4 c olive oil

1 lb large shrimp

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 t red pepper flakes

1 c tomato, seeded and diced

1/2 c basil, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 T lemon juice

salt & freshly ground black pepper

While the beans are simmering, heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the shrimp, season with salt and cook for about 1-3 minutes, tossing frequently until shrimp turns pink and begins to curl.  Don’t overcook!   Remove the shrimp to a bowl.

Add the garlic to the pan and saute until the garlic browns.  Add the pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomato and basil and stir briefly, then add the lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 1 minute, and then stir in the shrimp. Toss well and cook briefly to reheat the shrimp.

Spoon the white beans on a platter or individual plates.  Top with shrimp mixture.

The Results:

To be completely honest, this was a stretch for me.  I was running around like a crazy person trying to complete both dishes (and a baked item {that did not turn out so good}, which I will write about soon).  I don’t know what I was thinking! 

Thank goodness the baked item was the only thing that suffered because this dinner was fantastic. 

Let’s start with the Panzanella… you can pretty much season the bread with any spices you like.  Since I was going Tuscan, I went with the oregano and thyme. 

After the roasting of the bread, it was pretty much a snap to put the salad together.  Make sure you don’t toss in the dressing until right beforehand, so you can get a good crunch with the bread pieces.

It turned out so refreshing and perfect for a summer day!  The dressing was tart and sour, in a good way, which complemented the sweet tomatoes and cucumbers.  I only wish it saved better for leftovers.

As for the shrimp dish, another winner!  It was a little more complicated to make, and I’ve learned that even though I have a good knife and I can cut fairly (this is relative) well, I still don’t like doing it!  Seeding and dicing the big tomatoes was a pain (and if anyone knows any good tricks to keep the tomato from sliding, please share…), as was chopping the onion.

(Do you think it’s possible to hire a sous-chef to come in once a week and prep and chop all my foods for me?  I really thing it’d be worth the price.)

Once I passed those obstacles, the rest was easy.  Just some pouring and stirring.  (Oh, this was the first time I cooked shrimp ever, so I cheated a bit and got them shelled and de-veined.  This made the recipe a lot easier – and less gross.)

I was so surprised at how the beans and shrimp tasted together.  I would never have thought to mix them, but it was quite delicious.  And the tomatoes and basil contributed their fair share to the taste, as well.

Since both dishes shared many of the same ingredients, they went well together.  And the tomatoes were a featured flavor, just like I planned.

This was my plate at first…but I ended up having about 2 more servings.  I couldn’t resist.

Hopefully you won’t either.

Buon appetito!

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17 thoughts on “Tuscan Twosome: Panzanella Salad & Shrimp with White Beans, Tomatoes, and Basil

  1. Thank you for the lovely shout out! The menu you shared is the perfect summer meal! I will have to try the shrimp very soon. Gorgeous too!
    Thanks for joining ON THE MENU MONDAY… you brought summer on a plate!
    Yvonne

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  2. Hi Courtney,
    I am just stopping by from OTMM at StoneGable. This is a beautiful salad and it just looks delicious. We will really enjoy this dish. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week!
    Miz Helen

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  3. The Panzanella Salad/Tuscan Bread Salad is something my husband and I would love!!! We’re like you…we both adore tomatoes!! The other salad with the shrimp sounds great if we made it without shrimp. We’re both allergic. 😦

    They’re both very pretty and perfect for summer! 🙂

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  4. I’m a huge tomato fan as well, though, I didn’t use to be. I would always exclude them from my burgers, salads, etc. It was weird. But I’ve gotten past that and now eat them all of the time! This salad looks and sounds amazing.

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  7. Hi!

    We made these two dishes last night and they do go very well together. The only minor modification was adding black pepper to the panzanella dressing. It’s a definite ‘make again’ menu. Thanks!

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