I’m continuing this month’s cooking-with-fire theme by sharing my favorite Valentine’s Day dinner recipe.

Did you know that licorice is an aphrodisiac? The combination of fennel and Pernod make this prawn-and-pasta dish a wonderful Valentine’s Day dinner for two. Enjoy!

1 small package of your favorite pasta
20 raw jumbo shrimp
2 tablespoons butter
half a fennel bulb, thinly sliced
pinch of salt
1/3 cup Pernod
1/3 cup white wine
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Timing is everything with this recipe. It’s a good idea to prepare everything in advance, including having the table set and the candles lit, and time the pasta to finish cooking when the shrimp are ready.

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet (medium-high heat) and sauté the fennel and salt until the fennel is tendercrisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and keep warm.

In the same skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Lightly sauté the shrimp until pink and opaque, about 3 minutes.

Now comes the fun part!

Turn down the lights, add the Pernod and carefully ignite it, and gently shake the pan until the flame goes out, about 30 seconds.

Drain the pasta and put in two warmed pasta bowls. Spoon the fennel over the pasta. Arrange the shrimp over the fennel. They’re the perfect color and shape to make hearts shapes, so have some fun with this!

Add the white wine to the pan, bring to boil and let it boil about 1 minute. Add lemon juice. Drizzle over the shrimp and pasta. Serve.

Hint #1: Do not overcook the shrimp. If they’re precooked (already pink), reduce the cooking time to about 1 minute.

Hint #2: Don’t substitute Sambuca for the Pernod. It’s way too sweet.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


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