Thoughts of the Italian food I used to love so much now is nothing but a recipe for anxiety when I find myself in an Italian restaurant, which isn’t often anymore. I stopped loving it when I identified it as an enemy to my digestive system, with the ability to turn mealtime into a crisis. Think about it. At the typical pizza joint, there is rarely anything on the menu that isn’t laden with cheese and carbs and grease and garlic. Just thinking about it gives me agita and I don’t miss it, not one little bit.
But there are ways to approach Italian food that is both green and clean, leaving you feeling nourished rather than strangled by the sausages. This is one of them, offering great flavor without the dreaded bloat that takes you right to dessert. (Tiramisu and cappuccino, anyone?)
- 1 (1-pound) loaf ciabatta bread, trimmed and halved horizontally
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large or 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 pound extra-large peeled and deveined shrimp
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 plum tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
- 2 packed cups (2 ounces) arugula, chopped
- ½ cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
Directions for the bread
- Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.
- Preheat to 400 degrees F.
- Arrange the bread halves on a baking sheet and drizzle with some olive oil.
- Bake until light golden, 13 to 15 minutes.
- Cool for 2 minutes.
- Rub the warm bread with the cut side of the garlic.
Directions for the topping
- While the bread is baking, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 2 minutes.
- Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the skillet.
- Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until just pink and cooked through.
- Remove the shrimp to a cutting board.
- In the same skillet, add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook over medium-high heat until the tomatoes soften, about 4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut the shrimp into ½-inch pieces.
- Turn the heat under the skillet to high.
- Add the water and using a wooden spoon, scrape up the browned bits that cling to the bottom of the pan.
- Boil for 2 minutes.
- Add the broth and boil until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the shrimp, tarragon, arugula, and mascarpone and stir until the mixture is creamy.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the creamy shrimp and sauce over the bread and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cut into slices and serve.