When a holiday and a holy day fall on the same date, figuring out what to eat can be a challenge. Of course, it’s no problem if you’re feeding the non-observant. But if today you’re trying to nourish those whose behavior (and expectation) align with Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday both, perplexity may be on your mental menu.

Ash Valentine is occurring for the first time since 1945, so it's not likely you’ve got a recipe filed away from the last time. And for mid-week special occasions our desire to make something memorable gets tempered with the reality of work and school schedules. Serving up a portion of healthy nutrition to those we love adds a bit more complexity.

So here’s a suggestion: JJ Johnson’s shrimp and winter salad, whipped up quickly in a cast iron skillet. Shrimp are seared and glazed, then served over gently sautéed radicchio and endive. Memorable? Check. Meat-free for those observing the beginning of Lent? Check. Healthy nutrition? Pretty much. JJ’s secret sauce is in fact a honey-chipotle butter. So this dish is not precisely fat-free. But it is a holiday/holy day, after all. And depending on how your eaters pile on the salad dressing, the fat content may come out a wash.

Sauteeing the greens mellows their bitter edge, something Valentine’s Day is supposed to do. And if you can’t find frisee and radicchio close at hand, you could likely substitute kale or rainbow chard and still offer your loved ones color and a little bit of crunch.

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You can pick these ingredients on the way home and have a unique Ash Valentine’s dinner on the table in about a half an hour. Plenty of time to have the meaningful conversations that are the real point of holidays and holy days. And leaving you ample time to start planning of the next holy holiday — Easter April Fool’s!

Buttery Cast Iron Shrimp with Winter Salad

¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon honey

1 chipotle in adobo with sauce, minced

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 ounces frisée, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)

4 ounces radicchio and/or escarole, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)

1 endive, cored, leaves halved crosswise

1 cup coarsely chopped parsley

In a small bowl, stir together the butter, honey, chipotle, and ½ teaspoon salt until smooth. In a large cast-iron skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the chipotle butter. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Add half of the shrimp to the skillet, and cook over moderately high heat until opaque, turning once, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of the chipotle butter and remaining shrimp. In the same skillet, melt the remaining chipotle butter. Add the frisée, radicchio, endive, and parsley, and cook, tossing with tongs, until the greens are wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, and top the greens with the reserved shrimp and any pooled juices before serving

Source: JJ Johnson, foodandwine.com

Lynne Ireland lives to eat and welcomes comments and questions from others who do (or don’t). Contact her at features@journalstar.com.

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