Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Whether you are planning to celebrate with your sweetie, a gaggle of girlfriends, or your dog, I have one recommendation.
I love going out to eat. And I indulge in dining out more often than is good for my waistline, or my wallet – but if there is one day of the year that you should avoid restaurants, it’s Valentine’s day.
After many years of working Valentine’s day as a waitress, I feel confident saying the servers are cranky, the cooks are half-heartedly dishing up an overpriced prix fixe, and your dollars are better spent on a nice bottle of wine and ingredients for a cozy meal at home.
To be fair, I have had nice meals out on Valentine’s day, but the reality is that same restaurant is probably serving up better, more affordable food, with friendlier service the other 364 days of the year.
Enough, Negative Nancy.
My point is, let’s cook!
Last year I wrote a Sunday Supper Column specifically for Valentine’s day.
The first night make a spicy Diavolo sauce, with tomato, crushed red pepper and white wine. I used shrimp but it would be wonderful with lobster if you are feeling luxe, or any other shellfish that strikes your fancy.
Here it’s served over rice, but it’s divine tossed with fresh pasta.
Dried linguine is quite tasty too.
Make sure to save your shrimp (or lobster) shells, because the second day you make a simple stock for seafood stew with black beans. It comes together in no time.
I can’t really post this without giving my valentine a shout out. I was cooking my face off today when the doorbell rang…
And if you curse the commercial silliness that is Valentine’s Day,
And the whole thing just grosses you out…
Forget the icky romance bit.
Just think of it as a day devoted to eating chocolate, out of heart shaped boxes.
It’s hard to argue with that.
And the recipes…
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Serves 2 with leftovers
1 cup long grain white rice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and shells reserved
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 14 1/2 ounce can tomatoes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pinch of sugar
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped basil, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
1. In a medium saucepan bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil. Add 1 cup rice, reduce heat to low and cover for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed and rice is tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.
3. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent about 8 minutes.
4. Add garlic and fresh tomatoes and cook 1 minute more.
5. Add canned tomatoes, pepper flakes, sugar and wine and simmer for about 5 minutes.
6. Stir in basil, lemon, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
7. Reserve 2 cups of shrimp and sauce for stew the next day.
8. Spoon the shrimp and tomato mixture over rice and garnish with more basil.
Reserved shells from 1 pound of shrimp
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 leek, white and light green parts only, quartered
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups reserved shrimp tomato mixture from Fra Diavolo
1 can black beans, drained
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over low heat and saute shrimp shells for 5 minutes until they darken in color.
2. Add tomato paste and Old Bay seasoning and saute 1 minute more. Add leek and 4 cups water and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain stock and set aside
3. In the same saucepan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute pepper about 5 minutes until softened. Add shrimp stock, black beans and reserved shrimp and tomato mixture.
4. Simmer until just warmed through about 5 minutes, stir in cilantro, add more salt and pepper if desired, and serve.