Valentine’s Day can be a bittersweet holiday, for both singles and couples. Well-intentioned couples often make the mistake of booking ‘romantic’ dinner reservations at over priced, stuffy restaurants, and end up sitting in an over crowded dining area, trying to gaze at your date in a room so dimly lit you can barely see his or her face! This year, skip the reservation, and make it a date night in. Cook dinner at your place, set the table, and put in the extra effort to make the night special—even if you almost set the kitchen on fire, your valentine will appreciate the effort. Hey, it’s the thought that counts, right? This affordable, simple, foolproof Valentine’s Day dinner will make you glad you skipped the traditional route this year.
Appetizer: Caprese Salad with Balsamic Dressing
1 ball of fresh mozzarella
2 large tomatoes
Small bunch fresh basil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 quality balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
First, slice the mozzarella and tomatoes into 1/2 inch thick disks, place them in a small bowl and set aside. Next, remove basil leaves from the stem and set aside. Then, in a tall glass pour balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper, and mix moderately with a whisk (or large fork). Slowly stream in the 1/2 cup of olive oil while continuing to stir the mixture, and continue to stir until all of the olive oil is combined with the vinegar. Now, it’s time to layer the tomato, basil, and mozzarella twice on each plate. For the finishing touch, pour balsamic dressing over the salad, finish with fresh cracked pepper on top and serve.
Main dish: White Chicken Lasagna Rolls in a Stewed Tomato Sauce
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
13.75-oz. can artichokes, drained and chopped
1 cup of spinach
3-oz. package cream cheese room temperature
1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
One bottle good quality tomato sauce (Classico, Sensations)
Roast chicken breasts in the oven for twenty to twenty-four minutes at 400 degrees (this can be done in advance). In a large pot of boiling water, cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, drain, and set aside. In a large bowl combine parmesan, ricotta, cream cheese, mozzarella, egg, artichokes, chicken, and salt and pepper, and stir together before setting the mixture aside when it is well combined. Then, in small pan add a cup of spinach, and cook until wilted. Add this into the chicken cheese mixture, stir and set aside. Proceed to spread the filing onto lasagna noodles, and roll each one. Once they are all rolled, place them into a baking dish, and sprinkle with remaining cheese and parsley, and bake for fifteen minutes at 350 degrees. While the pasta is baking, place the pasta sauce into a small sauce pan and heat through. To serve, ladle a large spoonful of pasta sauce into middle of the plate, then place three lasagna rolls per plate, creating a heart like shape on the plate, serve immediately.
Dessert: dark chocolate strawberries with vanilla ice cream
Good quality vanilla or chocolate ice cream (Bryers, Häagen Dazs, Sensations)
The first step is to bring a small pot of water to a boil, then turn down the temperature to a simmer, and place a large glass bowl over the pot. Make sure the chocolate until it is completely smooth, and then take it off the heat. When you’ve done this, dip strawberries into the hot chocolate, and place them on waxed paper. Place the chocolate covered strawberries in the fridge for at least one hour. Use martini glasses to serve one large scoop of ice cream, and top it off with your chocolate covered strawberries. With a vegetable peeler, grate chocolate shavings on top of the ice cream. Serve immediately, and pair it with your favourite champagne.