Made With Love: Set The Table For Romance With a Delicious Date Night At Home

(Family Features)

February 10, 2022

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 https://www.bertolli.com

Italian Sausage Spinach and Tomato Rigatoni
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

• Water
• 1/2 box rigatoni pasta
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/2 cup onions, chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
• 16 ounces sweet Italian sausage
• 1 jar Bertolli d'Italia Marinara Sauce
• 2 cups fresh baby spinach
• salt, to taste
• pepper, to taste
• Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Bring 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 oil
• 4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
• salt, to taste
• ground black pepper, to taste
• 1 stalk celery, chopped
• 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 4 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 cup red wine
• 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
• 2 sprigs fresh sage leaves, chopped
• 8 sprigs fresh thyme
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 jar Bertolli d'Italia Marinara Sauce
• 2 cups beef bone broth
• water
• 24 ounces pappardelle pasta or preferred pasta
• freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Heat 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 oil
• 2 large chicken breasts
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• salt, to taste
• pepper, to taste
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup onions, chopped
• 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips
• 2 tablespoons capers, drained
• 6 fresh basil leaves, sliced
• 1 jar Bertolli d'Italia Creamy Rosa Sauce
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• water
• 1/2 box Casarecce or preferred pasta
• parsley, for garnish
• Parmesan cheese, for garnish

In 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.