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Valentine's meal that's sweet even before dessert

By: ALISON LADMAN The Associated Press
February 12, 2014
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Why wait for dessert to give your Valentine's Day dinner a sweet touch? We've created a delicious savory dinner that has a sweet side thanks to a touch of honey.

Start with homemade pasta tossed with a lemon-honey sauce and chopped fresh herbs. Don't be intimidated by making pasta from scratch. If you enjoy cooking together, dumping the ingredients on the counter and knead them together into a dough. Or for ease, do it in the food processor. Either way, the fun is in rolling it out and cutting it. No special equipment needed.

While you're working on the pasta, roast the second course - honey-pepper olives and green beans with shrimp. And for dessert? Keep it simple. Fresh strawberries drizzled with honey.

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HANDMADE PASTA WITH LEMON, HERBS AND HONEY

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 4

For the pasta:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons water

For the sauce:

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup mixed torn fresh herbs (such as parsley, chervil, basil, tarragon and chives)

Salt and ground black pepper

Parmesan cheese, to serve

In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, eggs, olive oil and water. Process until the dough forms a ball. Continue processing for another minute to knead the dough. Transfer the ball of dough to the counter. Cover with an overturned bowl or plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

Once the dough has rested, cut it in half. Using a rolling pin, one at a time roll each half out on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into an oblong as thin as possible. Using a pizza wheel or paring knife, cut the dough into long strips or irregular squares. Sprinkle the cut pasta with a bit of flour or cornmeal to prevent it from sticking.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the pasta into the water and cook until al dente, about 3 to 5 minutes.

When the pasta has cooked, drain it, then return it to the pot. Add the lemon zest and juice, butter and honey. Toss until the butter is melted. Add the herbs, then toss again. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with grated Parmesan.

Nutrition information per serving: 430 calories; 140 calories from fat (33 percent of total calories); 16 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 110 mg cholesterol; 60 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 11 g protein; 220 mg sodium.

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HONEY-PEPPER ROASTED SHRIMP WITH GREEN BEANS AND OLIVES

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

1/4 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

Zest of 1 orange

2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

8 ounces green beans, trimmed

1 pound large peeled and deveined raw shrimp

Heat the oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Coat the foil with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together the honey, red pepper flakes, salt, garlic, orange zest and rosemary. Stir in the olives and the green beans to coat. Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and add the shrimp, stirring them into the other ingredients. Roast for another 5 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and firm. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 260 calories; 60 calories from fat (23 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 170 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 19 g sugar; 24 g protein; 710 mg sodium.

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