Shrimp with White Beans, Garlic and Calabrian Chile. Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post/food styling by Gina Nistico for The Washington Post

Everyone needs a handful of recipes in their back pocket to get through those hectic days when 5 p.m. sneaks up on you and there is no plan for dinner. Such recipes are like trusted friends kept on speed dial, the ones who always manage to help you decompress and make you smile.

This skillet dinner is one of those meals for me. It can be pulled together quickly, with minimal chopping and cleanup, but it is one my family asks for again and again. It mainly involves ingredients easily kept on hand or swapped out, so it can be made without much forethought. A can of beans, a jar of hot peppers, garlic, lemon and olive oil are all common staples, and I consider frozen shrimp a must-have, too – the convenience of a lean protein that can be thawed in a bowl of cold water in 20 minutes or less. I usually have fresh tomatoes (even in the winter you can get pretty good grape tomatoes) and some kind of leafy green at home but, if not, those are easy enough to pop into the store for, and there are workarounds if I can’t make that happen.

To make it, you sauté sliced garlic until it’s golden, then add the beans, tomatoes and chiles, and simmer for a few minutes. I prefer cannellini beans here – there’s something about the way they pair with shrimp – but chickpeas would be nice instead. If I can’t get to the store for fresh tomatoes, or they don’t look good, I’ll sub in a can of drained, diced tomatoes.

And although I am enamored with the unique, floral essence of Calabrian chiles, any kind of jarred or fresh hot pepper will work. After adding the shrimp to that flavorful bean mixture and cooking them until they become pink and opaque, you stir in the spinach (or any leafy green) and add a squeeze of lemon juice.

All in all, in under half an hour you wind up with a delightful, satisfying skillet dinner of hearty beans and succulent shrimp, flecked with bites of tomato and ribbons of spinach. This filling, flavorful dish is aromatic with garlic, and has a subtle warmth from the chiles and a lovely lemony brightness.

Served with a simple salad and/or some crusty bread, it’s a recipe that is surely a friend to lean on.


A satisfying skillet dinner of hearty beans and succulent shrimp, flecked with bites of tomato and ribbons of spinach. Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post/food styling by Gina Nistico for The Washington Post

Skillet Shrimp with White Beans, Garlic and Chile

Total time: 25 minutes

Serves 4

Hearty beans and succulent shrimp come together in this skillet main. Flecked with bits of tomato and ribbons of spinach, it’s aromatic with garlic and has a subtle warmth from the chiles, as well as a lovely lemony brightness. It’s a healthful, satisfying meal that can be on the table in under half an hour with minimal chopping and cleanup, making it a game changer on a busy weeknight.

Serve with crusty bread and/or a simple green salad.

Storage: Refrigerate for up to 2 days.



3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

One (15-ounce) can no-salt-added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup (6 ounces) halved grape or cherry tomatoes

1 1/2 teaspoons minced, seeded Calabrian chiles or hot cherry peppers, plus more to taste


1 tablespoon water, plus more as needed

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

1 pound large shrimp (26 to 30 per pound), shelled and deveined (tails left on or removed)

2 cups lightly packed chopped baby spinach leaves

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice



In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Add the beans, tomatoes, chiles, water and salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes and beans soften, about 3 minutes. If the pan seems dry, add more water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Add the shrimp, re-cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and lemon juice and cook, gently tossing the mixture until the spinach is just wilted and the shrimp is opaque pink and cooked through, about 1 minute more. Taste, and add more chiles, if desired. Serve warm.


No cannellini beans? Use chickpeas instead.

Instead of Calabrian chiles, use your favorite hot pepper, jarred or fresh.

Instead of spinach, use another type of leafy green, such as kale or chard.

Nutritional Facts per serving (1 heaping cup) | Calories: 293; Fat: 12 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Carbohydrates: 18 g; Sodium: 335 mg; Cholesterol: 183 mg; Protein: 29 g; Fiber: 5 g; Sugar: 2 g

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