Well, this month became a toss-up once I realized that Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, falls on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. It’s been decades since this event has happened. The next time the two will coincide will be Feb. 14, 2024.
So we have a few years to enjoy the two on their own merits. Advice from some includes: Celebrate early, keep it simple, do for others, and embrace the temptation.
For those of us who are “traditionalists”, I’ve found some wonderfully romantic, satisfying recipes that don’t include meat.
1 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
8 basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
3 lb. can quartered artichoke hearts, drained well
Mix all ingredients well in large bowl Bake in shallow pan in preheated 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
Warm Olive Saute:
1 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups mixed olives
1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced
1/2 cup roasted, salted almonds
Remove peel from lemon, reserving lemon for another recipe. Saute’ lemon peel, minced garlic, fennel seeds and crushed red pepper in hot oil over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add olives, fennel and almonds. Cook, stirring occasionally about 7-10 minutes or until the fennel is crisp-tender.
1 small head endive, rinsed and drained
1 small head butter lettuce, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup walnut oil
3 Tbsp. sherry wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup fresh cherries, rinsed and pitted
4 oz. Roquefort cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp. chopped chives
Tear endive and lettuce into bite-size pieces and place in salad bowl. In small bowl, combine oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Beat with a whisk and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture over greens and mix well. Arrange greens on individual plates and top with walnuts, cherries, cheese and chives.
Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes:
3 pints grape tomatoes
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried or fresh rosemary, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Favorite pasta, cooked al dente
Grated Italian cheese
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Rinse tomatoes and pat dry with paper towels. Combine tomatoes with rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat and place in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan. Bake 8-10 minutes or until tomato skins are blistered and start to pop. Serve over your favorite pasta. Pass the cheese.
Coquilles Saint Jacques:
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 lbs. fresh bay scallops or sea scallops, halved
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp. green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup flour
Dash of white pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. minced parsley
In small saucepan, mix wine, lemon juice and salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1 minute. Add scallops and simmer 1 minute longer. Drain, reserving liquid. You should have 1 cup. Add water, if needed.
In another saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter and saute’ the green onion and garlic for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook until barely tender. Stir in flour and white pepper Add milk and reserved cup of scallop liquid. Cook until thick and bubbly. Taste for seasoning. Remove from heat and stir in scallops.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter 6 coquilles (shells) or other ovenproof shallow serving dishes and fill with scallops. Mix bread crumbs with melted butter and Parmesan and sprinkle over scallops. Bake for 10 minutes until lightly browned. sprinkle with parsley and serve.
NOTE: If you’re giving up dessert for Lent, try some fresh fruit (not considered dessert for me) placed in a fancy crystal glass and pour some Frangelico over.
Refrigerate it for an hour before serving. Happy Valentine’s Day!