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The Cross and the Cleaver: Ashes and Hearts!

Valentine’s Day, with flowers, chocolates and fancy dinners is just around the corner. So is Ash Wednesday, which for many Christians marks the beginning of Lent, time of prayer, reflection, often fasting. This year, coincidentally, they share the same date – February 14th.

Reconciling both has already taken on a humorous approach. I saw a meme where traditional imposition of the ashes in form of a cross was replaced by marking one’s forehead with a shape of a heart.

Joking aside, both of those days have a theme in common. LOVE. Despite its origins, Valentine’s Day is about romance, courtship… LOVE. Lent is the beginning of the spiritual and theological journey that ends on the cross and at empty tomb of Jesus. Symbols of God’s… LOVE.

We show love in many ways, some more pragmatic than others, some even more pathetic than others. One of those key elements of the universal language of love is… food. Many first dates, proposals, sharing good news or offering comfort happen over a shared meal. I still remember my first dinner with my wife, appetizer, mains and all.

Make yours memorable as well. Cook for her or him, or even cook together. Do you remember the spaghetti kiss from “Lady and the Tramp”? Who knows, you might even try it yourselves.

Let’s make it to the kitchen! 🙂

TO START:

Mix together 1 cup of mini-bocconcini, 1 cup of cocktail tomatoes (both cut in half), season with salt and pepper, and spoon over baguette slices cut on a bias (you can toast them if you like). Top with shaved parmesan flakes and roughly chopped fresh basil (dried one will do fine as well). Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. DO NOT ADD those ghastly cinnamon hearts!

MAIN:

Boil the pasta of your choice (you know your appetite better than I). Remember – fusilli (corkscrew), farfalle (bowtie) or spaghetti (the long noodles) look pretty; macaroni (you know – Kraft Dinner© stuff) does not .

Meantime on a large non-stick pan heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter. On med heat sauté 1 med size onion (or 2 shallots) chopped finely. When onions are translucent add 1 cup of frozen sweet peas and 2 cups of cooked med-size shrimp (defrosted), along with your al dente cooked pasta. Mix and cover for no longer than 2 minutes. Serve individually or in a bowl, sprinkled with chopped or dried parsley and drizzled with a touch of olive oil. RESIST GARNISHING with those abominable cinnamon hearts!

DESSERT:

Keep it simple, as the last thing is the easiest to mess up. In the individual dishes serve blueberries, topped with whipped cream. If you are whipping the cream, feel free to add lemon zest, or a few drops of vanilla extract, or some of your favourite liqueur. Fresh mint will elevate it nicely. DO NOT DECORATE with those appalling cinnamon hearts.

HAPPY VALENTINE DINNER!!!

And yeah, the picture is mine 🙂

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