I’ve been a flying solo for a few days.
After traveling to and from Durango without John, we had about 12 hours together before he had to leave on a business trip. I certainly prefer when we’re together, but there are plenty of things about solo time that I enjoy. Particularly when you share a home with someone, there’s something about having no agenda other than your own that feels luxurious.
For years now, my first night alone is generally reserved for take-out dinner, wine, and a chick flick. It’s a ritual that brings me back to the days in my 20s when staying in by choice instead of socializing into the wee hours of morning felt positively decadent. (Of course, that never happened on a Friday night.) This week included its fair share of movies and shows John wouldn’t want to see (I don’t know why he doesn’t LOVE Will and Grace like I do). I spent plenty of time outdoors with Cholula, her exercise and entertainment now solely my responsibility. I finally dove into my haphazard stack of papers and put a dent into my filing organization project. I lost a few hours curled up with my nose tucked into my book. I savored time to peel through magazines and catalogs. I had a chance to test some of the fun products from my BirchBox. I got a ton of writing done, my creative juices flowing with record albums spinning behind me. I tried a new recipe using butternut squash (stay tuned!). And I was able to sleep pretty well, without earplugs (hubby snores) and with ample room in the bed, despite sharing it with a 60-lb German Shepard/Lab.
Of course, I can do all of those things when John isn’t out of town. And to be truthful, I don’t LIKE having that much room in the bed. I miss bumping feet under the covers in the middle of the night, rearranging myself so all three of us have space. It’s painful for me to stumble downstairs in the morning and realize the coffee isn’t already made. When I’m thirsty in the middle of the night, there’s no glass of water by my bed (John brings me one each night). There are only so many chick flicks one can watch before starting to crave an action blockbuster. The house is too quiet without his songs to the dog or the familiar noises of his routine. Cholula stares out the window, missing Papa and making me feel a little sad. I feel less secure at night, second-guessing whether I’ve locked all of the doors or not. I prefer to cook for someone else, not just myself. Mostly, I really just love John’s company. Life’s just better when we’re together.
On my last night as a single lady, I wanted to make something delicious for dinner that wasn’t too involved. I’d been craving shrimp, and as I wandered around Whole Foods with my basket, an idea started to form. I plucked a few random items from the shelves, headed home, and followed my intuition… and the result was an awesome herbed shrimp pizza with feta and arugula. YUM!
First, I got the premade pizza dough out of the bag and let it rise in a bowl for an hour or two. Next, I took the tails off of some shrimp and let them swim in a bowl with garlic salt, pepper, olive oil, chopped fresh basil and oregano, and a healthy pinch of crushed red pepper.
While the dough and shrimp did their thing, I chopped some garlic and an orange pepper, more basil and oregano, and set out the rest of my ingredients. This meal was super easy because there’s hardly any prep!
I poured some of the shrimp marinade into a medium-heat pan and then added the shrimp. I really undercooked them, knowing they’d bake more in the oven- just enough to get pink on both sides before removing them onto a plate.
I floured the counter and rolled out half of the dough into a thin disc, rolling the edges like John does. I transferred the dough to a pizza pan- perfect fit! On a whim, I poured the herbed oil from the shrimp pan onto the crust and brushed it evenly over the whole thing.
Topping time! I started with a thin layer of mozzarella cheese. Next, orange peppers and roasted tomatoes. I added the herby shrimp and sprinkled plenty of fresh oregano and basil on top. Next came the minced garlic, then lots of feta cheese.
Yes to this.
My pretty little pizza only needed about 20 minutes in the oven, so I set the table for one and opened a nice bottle of wine. The pizza came out of the oven browned and melty, and I could have sliced it up just like that. Instead, I added a generous handful or two of arugula. The heat made it start to wilt a tad, and I drizzled a bit of olive oil on top and added fresh parmesan cheese.
NOW it’s a party.
The crust was crisp and the feta gave the pizza a salty bite. I adore roasted tomatoes, and their sweetness was a tasty balance to the salt and spice. The shrimp were tender and scrumptious- next time, I might chop them into smaller pieces instead of leaving them whole. And the arugula on top meant I didn’t need to make a side salad. Not bad for a date with myself, right?
In an hour or so, Cholula and I will head to the airport to pick up John. Single gal solo time will be over. We’re planning on a Saturday family hike in the woods, and I can’t wait for him to be home.
But first, one last single gal tradition: cold pizza for breakfast. Mmmm.
Herbed Shrimp Pizza with Feta and Arugula
- Premade pizza dough
- ½ lb. raw shrimp, cleaned
- ½ cup fresh chopped basil
- ½ cup fresh chopped oregano
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- One small bell pepper, sliced
- ½ cup roasted tomatoes
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 cups arugula
- Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
- Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste
*Ingredient amounts will vary based on the size of your pizza and your topping preferences.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the pizza dough in a bowl and set it aside for at least one hour.
In a small bowl, marinate the shrimp in olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper, and some of the basil and oregano. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Over medium heat, pour some of the herb marinade into a pan, then add the shrimp. Cook in one layer for 1-2 minutes per side, not cooking all the way through. Remove the shrimp to a plate and turn off the heat.
On a floured surface, roll out your pizza dough into a disc and transfer to a pizza pan. Pour the herbed oil from the shrimp pan onto the dough and brush it evenly over the crust. Add your toppings: mozzarella, bell pepper, roasted tomatoes, shrimp, the rest of the herbs, garlic, and feta cheese.
Bake for 17-20 minutes, until the crust is browned and the cheese is melted and browning. Top the pizza with arugula, a drizzle of olive oil, and plenty of fresh Parmesan cheese. Cheers to yourself and save a piece or two for breakfast. YUM!
**More recipes await on the FOOD BLISS link above!**