Back to School

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It’s that time again.  Back to school.  The dreaded time when everyone has to hurry every morning to get up and get ready and when time is short in the evenings.  We’ve spent the day running errands for school, last minute clothing purchases, haircuts, car washing, paying lunch money, etc.  Everyone has to set their alarms and go to bed early.  I know a lot of moms look forward to back to school, but not me.  It means driving an extra 15 minutes twice a day and less time in the evening to get things done.  It means worrying about grades and filling out extra papers and paying extra fees.  It’s a hassle, for sure.

It’s this time of year that I struggle to find quick meals.  Sure, I try to find quick meals all the time, but especially during the school year.  I love shrimp, and I love the combination of spinach and tomatoes.  This Shrimp Florentine Linguine has both.  It’s a brothy pasta, which is great for sopping up with a piece of French bread.  This dish is pretty easy and quick to put together.  It’s filling, but you’re not so stuffed you have to loosen your pants.  The boys were pleased with this dinner, and I think you will be too.  Enjoy!

1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 T butter
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb linguine
1/2 C white wine
1 1/2 C chicken stock
1 lemon
2 T chopped fresh Italian parsley
Red chili flakes, to taste
One 6-ounce bag baby spinach, roughly torn
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 C shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper, to taste

Cook the linguine according to package directions.

Melt the butter in a large skillet and drizzle in a little olive oil. Cook the garlic for about a minute over medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Add in the wine to deglaze the pan.  Add in the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes start to soften, about 3-5 minutes.  Add in the chicken stock and the shrimp and cook the shrimp until it’s done, about 5-7 minutes.  Add in the spinach, salt & pepper to taste, and the chili flakes to taste.  Turn the heat down slightly.  Cook and stir until the spinach is wilted.  Remove the skillet from the heat and squeeze the lemon juice over the top.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese and the parsley.  Mix the shrimp mixture with the drained linguine and serve.

On average, two restaurants a week closed in the year to the end of March, including casual dining chains, as well as upmarket and independent establishments, according to the latest data from analysts CGA and corporate advisory firm AlixPartners. Graeme Smith, the managing director of AlixPartners, said he expected restaurant numbers to continue to drop throughout the year as large chains in particular slim down. There have already been high-profile closures by burger chain Byron, Jamie’s Italian, Carluccio’s, the Prezzo Group and Sir Terence Conran’s Albion restaurants, but more large chains and independents are expected to suffer. “It’s easy to say this is a crisis in casual dining,” said Peter Martin at CGA. “This is a crisis happening for everyone.” Restaurants are suffering because the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote has made ingredients more expensive while staff costs have risen, partly due to increases in the minimum wage. Economic uncertainty has stalled growth in the sector just as competition has increased after a surge in openings partly fuelled by private equity investment.

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