Valentine’s Day dinner . . . for four

I can’t remember the last time my husband and I went out for Valentine’s Day. I think it was an early seating at some popular place more than 10 years ago. They’d clearly brought in extra tables and I was closer to the person next to me on the banquette than my husband across the table. So much for atmosphere.

Now I prefer dinner at home with my three best men. Purely for my own enjoyment I set the table with nice dishes, linens, and the red glassware my Grandma gave us for our wedding, make something special that everyone loves, and light the candles. We have a lovely time together eating and giving gifts (from me to the boys, from all the boys to me). For about 20 minutes. And then its time for swimming lessons. Ahh, the romance.

I like to think I’m inspiring my boys to create traditions with their families someday. That doing something special and doing it every year will sink in. That maybe they will be the occasion-creators in their families. If nothing else, I hope they will learn it is a joy to do things for others.

Owen’s Valentine’s Day dinner request was Diablo Shrimp, his all-time favorite meal and my good friend Heidi’s creation. With a bit of post-heart-attack modification, it’s a special treat for all of us.

Happy Heart Day! Please do what you need to keep your heart healthy so you can share your life with those you love.

Heidi’s Diablo Shrimp

1/4 cup olive oil (Heidi’s original recipe is 1/2 cup butter, which I assure you is divine. But olive oil is good too.)
1 tbsp. garlic, minced (must be fresh, do not cheat and use jarred)
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup white wine (Pinot Grigio is my white of choice)
1 lb. peeled devined uncooked shrimp (my boys love shrimp so much I often use 1.5 lbs.)
1 lb. linguini
a few thin slices of lemon
5 oz. fresh baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese

Combine olive oil/butter, garlic, and cayenne. Cook until garlic is soft. Add wine and cook until reduced by half. Allow to cool a little. Cook pasta in the meantime and reserve some pasta water in case you need to thin the sauce (you may need to if using oil).

Return oil and garlic to the heat and add the shrimp. Cook until nearly opaque, then add the spinach. Cook until heated through and wilted. Season to taste and serve over the pasta with lemon slices and parmesan.

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