I imagine that many of my fellow moms are no strangers to the perennial problems of babysitter and budget - not enough of one and too much of the other! I want to share with you a dinner date idea that won't take hours of prep, lots of dollars, or even a babysitter. Here goes.
4 Minute Spicy Garlic Shrimp
Angel Hair Pasta
Baguette with Sweet Cream Butter
paired with Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava
To make this night of magic happen, first put the kids to bed early and then pop the cava into the freezer. Next get started on the shrimp. I follow this recipe pretty closely, except for the following changes. I often buy 1 lb bags of raw medium shrimp (deveined but unpeeled) and keep them on hand, then defrost and peel (tail included) myself. It doesn't take that long, and they are usually much less expensive than the jumbo. I may or may not zest the lemon, depending on time constraints, using just the juice instead. Also, fresh parsley is cheap at the grocery store and farmers market, but if I don't happen to have any on hand, I don't let that stop me.
While the shrimp is cooking, get the pasta (two servings) going. Aim to have them finish at about the same time. I usually use my dutch oven on the stovetop to cook the shrimp, and then remove them to a separate dish. You will find that much of the seasoning and even some bits of shrimp are still in the pot. Drain the pasta, reserving a little bit of liquid, and place it in the dutch oven with some of the liquid. Stir to coat. The pasta will have a nice delicate flavor as long as you don't overdo it with the amount. Now just steam some broccoli (when I'm in a hurry I just use one of the steam in the bag brands) and warm your "take and bake" baguette in the oven (follow the directions on the package).
Now all that is left to do is plate the food and uncork the cava*. For the enquiring minds among us, cava is a Spanish sparkling wine that is named for the cool cellars where it ferments. It is made by blending a variety of wines, the product of which is fermented, and then fermented a second time via the méthode champenoise. This method is, as its name indicates, the same method used to make Champagne, and involves introducing sugar and yeast into the individual bottles, which interact to create carbon dioxide. Bubbles.
Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava is a great dry (as brut indicates) budget cava. It is crisp, clean and a bit citrusy. The flavors and effervescence are perfect for balancing the spice of the shrimp, and the price (usually around $8/standard bottle) to flavor value can't be beat. So get some bubbly and get the party started!
*Note: If you don't have champagne flutes, serve the chilled cava in a tulip shaped wine glass, or really anything with a stem. The stem prevents the warmth of your hand from affecting the temperature of the liquid.