Gamberi e Fagioli

Prawns and Beans

One of those odd ‘surf and turf’ type food combinations, but not a wacky invention of post Nouvelle Cuisine nonsense. This dish seems to have developed traditionally in several regions simultaneously, notably Tuscany and the Veneto. The beans are the same as for Tonno e Fagioli, the prawns are tiger prawns, briefly cooked in a strong court-bouillon, and the seasoning is provided by Gremolata. Everything except the gremolata can be prepared in advance.


  • 24 tiger prawns, headless but shell on (16–20 per 500 g countto your fishmonger)
  • 500 g cooked cannellini beans or tinned
  • 2 tbsp Gremolata
  • top-quality olive oil

For the Court-Bouillon

  • ½ bottle white wine
  • 4 lime leaves (get from oriental stores)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into attractive rounds
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into rings
  • 1 celery stick, stringed and finely sliced
  • sea salt
  • parsley stalks (from Gremolata)
  • 20 black peppercorns


To make the court-bouillon, add 1 litre of water to the wine in a medium saucepan, then add the lime leaves and vegetables. Season very heavily with salt and add the parsley stalks and peppercorns. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes while you peel the prawns. Keep the prawn shells in your freezer and use them in Fish Broth.

Bring the court-bouillon to a boil and drop the prawns in it. Turn off immediately, and tip out into a wide deep tray to cool as quickly as possible. Leave the prawns to cool completely in the liquid. Meanwhile, pick out the lime leaves, parsley and peppercorns.

To assemble the salad, drain 1 serving spoon of beans per person and put in a mixing bowl. Drain the prawns and the vegetables and add these to the bowl. Add the gremolata and a small amount of court-bouillon. Toss very gently and portion out on to small plates. Moisten each plate with a few drops of the oil. Possibly serve with lemon halves.