Valentines Dinner at Home

Cooking dinner with a special someone can be as romantic as a fancy meal at a restaurant any day. I love opening a bottle of wine, turning on some great tunes and cooking a great meal. Involve your significant other in the menu planning, grocery shopping, and food prep (even if its just moral support in the kitchen).

Cooking together creates a bond and makes a great meal even more special. When the meal is ready, dim the lights, light a candle, bring out your good china and celebrate your hard work together. Having a little wine with dinner will make doing the dishes go by a bit faster too. So this year instead of paying too much to eat at a crowded restaurant with tons of awkward couples, stay in and make a romantic meal together. Here’s my pick for a great date night at home:

Pesto Pasta

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat noodles (I used penne)
  • 1 cup pesto (store bought or home made- my recipe below)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup sour cream, Greek yogurt, or blue cheese dressing (something to make the sauce a bit creamy)
  • 1/2 pound bulk spicy sausage
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt, pepper, garlic to taste

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta in salted water according to package instructions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, brown the sausage in a tall skillet or sauce pan.
  3. Once sausage is brown add the peas and cook for 1-2 min.
  4. Add the pesto. As it warms the pesto should thin out creating a sauce.
  5. Add your creamy addition (optional) and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
  6. Slowly add a bit of the starchy pasta water to thin the sauce out.
  7. Drain the noodles (reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water) and place back into the pot you cooked them in.
  8. Pour the sauce over top of the noodles and use the cooking water to thin out if needed.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Top servings with Parmesan.

Homemade Pesto

With pesto you can really change it up depending on what you have in your fridge. This recipe is based on ingredients I had left from other meals. As you mix just keep tasting for the texture and consistency you want.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup basil
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 5 sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (stream in a little a time – may not need this much)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (add a little at a time)
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • jalapeno
  • salt, pepper, red chili flakes to taste

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender and stream the olive oil in until the pesto reaches the consistency you desire.
  2. You can also add:
  • pine nuts
  • walnuts
  • cilantro
  • olives
  • peppers
  • hot sauce, etc
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