Mayacoba Bean Salad with Pesto and Shrimp from Steve Sando's Heirloom Beans


Even if you don't know Steve Sando by name, you're probably familiar with his heirloom beans, which he grows on his farm in Napa, Rancho Gordo, and sells at the Saturday farmers market at the Ferry Building. His new cookbook, written with co-author Vanessa Barrington, is chock-a-block full of delicious-sounding recipes, from spring lamb with flageolets to Anasazi cowboy chili. If you can't make it to the farmers market, you can also find Rancho Gordo beans in the bulk bins at Rainbow Grocery. If your experience with beans is limited to the canned variety, you're in for a treat. Sando's varieties (with such fun names as Marrow Beans, Black Valentine and Appaloosa) are toothsome and tasty.

Mayacoba Bean Salad with Pesto and Shrimp

Beans and seafood aren’t one of the more obvious matches in the kitchen. It’s a shame because the creaminess of the beans makes a rich seafood dish that’s great with a crisp white wine like a Napa or Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc. The standard cheese and pine nuts are omitted from this pesto to keep the flavors pure.

2 garlic cloves
About 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 to 5 peppercorns
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups well-drained, cooked Mayacoba beans, warmed slightly
1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Freshly ground pepper

Make the pesto: Put the garlic, basil, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until chopped. With the motor running, slowly drizzling in the olive oil, and process until blended. Season to taste with pepper. Set aside.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the bay leaf, fennel and coriander seeds, peppercorns, garlic, wine, lemon half, and salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp, bring to a boil, and cook until the shrimp are opaque and firm, about 30 seconds. Drain well.

Put the beans and cherry tomatoes in a large salad bowl. Add the shrimp and toss gently. Pour the pesto over the salad. Toss and season with salt and pepper and the lemon juice. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Substitution Note: Mayacoba beans are white beans, so use cannellini, cellini, or marrow beans in their place. In a pinch, navy beans will work fine.

Courtesy of Steve Sando and Vanessa Barrington, Heirloom Beans, Chronicle Books (2008).

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