Set the table for romance with a delicious date night at home
(Family Features) Planning a delicious, romantic date night doesn’t have to take you any further than your own kitchen. You don’t have to be an accomplished chef to set the table for romance, but you can take inspiration from simple, quality Italian dishes to celebrate the link between food and love.
As these recipes show, a romantic meal can be ready in minutes or, like a great love story, simmered to perfection. To plan the ultimate date night at home, start by choosing one of these dreamy main dishes made with mouthwatering sauces.
Flavorful sauces make a great Italian meal, but the sauce doesn’t need to be made from scratch (at least, not completely). For example, Bertolli d’Italia sauces are made in Italy for authentically delicious flavor. They are crafted with tomatoes vine-ripened under the Italian sun, finely aged Italian cheeses, fresh cream and Mediterranean olive oil. The result is a sauce that’s perfect for your date-night meal.
Once you select your main course, prepare a simple salad of greens with a drizzle of Italian vinaigrette or Caesar dressing. Pop a loaf of bakery-fresh Italian or focaccia bread into the oven to warm through and serve with butter or olive oil for dipping. If you’re so inclined, cap off the meal with a classic Italian dessert from your local bakery, like tiramisu, cannoli or a creamy panna cotta topped with fresh fruit.
Find more romantic dishes perfect for sharing at
Italian Sausage Spinach and Tomato Rigatoni
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Water1/2 box rigatoni pasta1 tablespoon olive oil1/2 cup onions, chopped4 cloves garlic, minced1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced16 ounces sweet Italian sausage1 jar Bertolli d’Italia Marinara Sauce2 cups fresh baby spinachsalt, to tastepepper, to tasteParmesan cheese, for garnishBring large stockpot of water to boil. Boil rigatoni pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.In saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Saute until vegetables start to brown. Add Italian sausage and cook until done, breaking into small pieces. Add sauce and bring to low boil.Add baby spinach. Cook until spinach is mostly wilted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.Add drained pasta to pan with sausage and sauce. Toss and divide between plates. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.
Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib Ragu
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
2 tablespoons olive oil4 pounds bone-in beef short ribssalt, to tasteground black pepper, to taste1 stalk celery, chopped1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced1 small onion, chopped8 cloves garlic, finely chopped4 tablespoons tomato paste1 cup red wine4 sprigs fresh rosemary2 sprigs fresh sage leaves, chopped8 sprigs fresh thyme2 bay leaves1 jar Bertolli d’Italia Marinara Sauce2 cups beef bone brothwater24 ounces pappardelle pasta or preferred pastafreshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishHeat oven to 350 F.In 5-quart Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Season short ribs with salt and ground black pepper, to taste. Place one layer of short ribs in pot. Set remaining ribs aside.Cook ribs 3-4 minutes per side until browned. Transfer to plate and set aside. Repeat with remaining short ribs.Add celery, carrots and onion to pot used to brown ribs. Stir and cook until vegetables are browned, about 15 minutes.Add garlic and stir 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste. Cook 2-3 minutes.Carefully pour red wine into pot.Stir and scrape any browned bits from bottom of pot. Cook 3-4 minutes until wine is almost completely absorbed into vegetables.Add rosemary, sage, thyme and bay leaves to pot. Add sauce, bone broth and browned ribs. Cover pot and place in oven 2 1/2-3 hours, or until ribs are fall-apart tender.Remove pot from oven. Transfer ribs to plate or cutting board. Remove and discard herb stems and bay leaves. Remove bones from ribs then shred meat into bite-sized pieces using two forks or tongs. Return shredded ribs to pot with ragu. Stir to combine. Set aside.Bring large stockpot of water to boil. Boil pappardelle pasta until al dente. Add drained pasta to pot with beef ragu and toss until combined.Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Creamy Italian Garlic Chicken Pasta
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil2 large chicken breasts1 teaspoon Italian seasoningsalt, to tastepepper, to taste4 cloves garlic, minced1/4 cup onions, chopped1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips2 tablespoons capers, drained6 fresh basil leaves, sliced1 jar Bertolli d’Italia Creamy Rosa Sauce1/2 cup heavy creamwater1/2 box Casarecce or preferred pastaparsley, for garnishParmesan cheese, for garnishIn saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil. Season chicken with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Sear chicken breasts on both sides until browned. Remove from pan and set aside.Add garlic and onions to hot pan. Cook until starting to brown. Add sun-dried tomatoes, capers and basil; stir. Add sauce and heavy cream; cook until mixture starts boiling.Bring large stockpot of water to boil. Boil Casarecce pasta until al dente. Divide pasta between two plates. Place one chicken breast over pasta on each plate and top with additional sauce, parsley and Parmesan cheese.