I love Valentine’s Day. Seriously. I love it. Single people always go around hating on the V-Day, but honestly, what’s not to love!? A holiday celebrating the beautiful relationships in my life, and I get to do it with butter, sugar, vanilla, and chocolate? Ummmmmm, sign me up!! And to top it off, I wore obnoxiosly pink shoes to work today and it wasn’t even considered inappropriate!
It’s funny because everyone thinks of Valentine’s Day as being a couple-y holiday, but that’s not really what its about. In my (almost) 26 years of existence, I’ve only been dating someone on Feb 14th on two separate occasions, and I only received flowers on one of those occasions… and I’ve never ever actually gone on a real Valentine’s Day date. Don’t you see though? Those aren’t the things that matter. I don’t need a boyfriend, or roses, or a fancy dinner date to feel loved. All I need is a really good group of friends!
In highschool my friends and I used to laugh at the girls carrying flowers around school all day and make a new list every year entitled “The Top 10 Reasons Why I Don’t Want Meadville Boys Buying Me Roses.” I would give my left arm (maybe even my right arm…) to get my hands on a copy of one of those lists now.
In college I went on the greatest Valentine’s date ever when my friend Christina drove a station wagon full of girls for a magical dinner at the Pizza Hut Buffet. Laugh all you want, but we are still talking about that one. No joke, my friend Nan just texted me this morning to wish me a happy V-Day and remind me of that night.
My junior year of college I was studying aboard in Sevilla, Spain and a friend and I jetted off for a weekend adventure in Barcelona for Valentine’s 2008. That one will never ever ever be topped.
Some years haven’t been quite as good. Like the year that I got dumped days before and (cliche as it might sound) self soothed by eating about a dozen of these.
This year is shaping up to be extra classy with plans to play quizzo and drink Coors Light drafts with friends at a neighborhood bar. Not because it’s Valentine’s Day… just because it’s Thursday.
Nonetheless, whether I’m hopping a plane to Barcelona, gorging on pizza, making fun of my highschool classmates, stuffing my face with cupcakes, rocking hot pink shoes, or failing miserably at bar trivia, there is one thing I’ve felt ever single Valentine’s Day… and that is love. I am truly blessed to live a life full of loving relationships and I am completely enamored with the idea of having a day set where I get to tell my friends and family how much they mean to me.
So all that mushy talk is just a big lead up to today’s recipe. This risotto is extra special and the type of thing you make for a person when you want to let them know you care. Making risotto takes some time and a little TLC, but I promise you that the results are worth your efforts. It is warm and comforting, and with rich ingredients like shrimp and goat cheese it is perfect for a special occasion. I recommend serving with a green salad, fresh bread, and a glass of white wine if you really want to knock your dinner guest’s socks off.
Or be like me, make a big batch for yourself on a Sunday afternoon, then bring the leftovers for a fancy lunch at work : )
**recipe makes 3 healthy portions…double if serving a crowd**
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1/2 small white onion, diced
- 3/4 cup plus extra 2 Tbs of Arborio (short grain) rice
- 1/4-1/2 cup white wine
- 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken broth until hot, but don’t bring to a boil. Keep it over low heat through the remainder of the cooking process.
Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs of olive oil in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook, just until pink. Be careful not to let them get over done. I typically cook them for about 2 minutes on one side, then flip them and continue to cook for another minute or 2, depending on the heat. Remove the shrimp from the dutch oven and set aside.
Add another Tbs of oil oil to the dutch oven along with the minced garlic, diced onion, and diced red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, or until the pepper and onion are soft and fragrant Add the rice, all at once, and stir until evenly coated in oil and mixed with the veggies. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Arborio rice is a short grain Italian rice used in risotto making. It breaks down a lot in the liquid and cooks up nice and soft, like a pasta, while creating the creamy base for the dish. It used to be hard to come by, but is available in most major grocery stores these days.
Add the wine to the rice and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring as it absorbs into the rice. Once the wine has been mostly absorbed, start adding the hot chicken broth, a quarter cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting the liquid absorb into the rice before making the next addition. Cook the rice until creamy and al dente, which may not require all of the liquid. I typically use a large soup ladle and a wooden spoon for this process. The whole liquid adding process will take close to a half an hour. It is important to continue stirring through the whole process to eliminate sticking and clumping.
Cut the shrimp into little bite sized pieces, then add them back into the risotto along with the crumbled goat cheese and the grated Parmesan. Continue stirring until the cheese had melted and distributed and the shrimp has warmed through. Serve heaping portions immediately.
The Pioneer Woman’s Red Pepper Risotto which I recreated almost exactly, just with the addition of the shrimp.