It seems like yesterday we celebrated Christmas, and yet it is already time to get ready for Valentine’s Day. Here is an idea to surprise your significant other in an easy, affordable and very romantic way: a private “Italian Style” home-cooked dinner, where the cooking part is the gift to each other! In my years as a private cooking class teacher and private dinner chef I’ve been invited many times by couples that wished to learn how to cook some basic Italian dishes, but I believe that your night will be more romantic if you cook together and enjoy your Valentine’s dinner without any intrusion. More special, and much more affordable! So here is the step by step guide to arranging an easy (but perfect), affordable and romantic Italian Style Valentine’s dinner at your house:
- Ask in advance for grandparents, best friends or godparents to babysit your children for a few hours. Of course, it would be amazing having the whole evening alone, but most of the time it’s impossible, so plan to spend about three hours alone together. The first two will be dedicated to cooking and eating, the third one… your choice!
- Shop at the Dollar Tree for a few cute and cheap Valentine’s things to decorate the table. It could be heart-shaped charger plates, centerpiece or candle holders, or matching aprons. It’s important to set the right atmosphere for romance.
- Have an easy menu in mind. Read the recipes multiple times and have the groceries ready by the night before and … your easy and affordable Italian Style private Valentine’s dinner is set!
But let’s take a step back and find the right menu that could be easy, fast and romantic for you. I think around here, most of us like bacon, so here are my choices for authentic Italian dishes for you for on this special occasion:
WHILE YOU ARE COOKING: A middle-age aperitif could be perfect to warm the atmosphere before starting the cooking phase. It’s not too alcoholic to blur your judgment, so you should be good following cooking directions even while sipping it! This cocktail is quite simple to prepare but collecting all the ingredients may be complicated since they are hard to find locally. If you don’t feel like making things too complicated, just skip this and pass directly to the main menu (I will talk about the “wine pairing” later).
AS A STARTER: PUFF PASTRY AND BACON HEARTS.
Time of preparation: 10 minutes to prepare + 20 minutes baking.
Level of difficulty: easy.
Ingredient price: around $8 (and you’ll have plenty of leftovers).
AS YOUR MAIN COURSE: ITALIAN SPAGHETTI A LA CARBONARA
Time of preparation: 20 minutes total.
Level of difficulty: easy
Ingredient cost: about $6
FOR DESSERT: AMARETTI AND RUM TIRAMISU
Time of preparation: 20 minutes. Resting time: 30 minutes in the freezer.
Level of difficulty: easy.
Ingredients cost: about $8 (if you already have Rum at home).
Now that I’ve listed the recipes I’d pick, I would like to disclose some tricks and tips to manage your time while cooking these dishes as a couple-in a fun way-but mostly, with the certainty of an excellent dinner!
ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION of the COOKING: for your easy and affordable romantic, Italian Style, home-cooked Valentine’s dinner to turn out exactly how you desire, follow these tips:
1) First half an hour, let one of the puff pastry sheets thaw out on the counter and in the meantime prepare the dessert. (If your coffee is super hot, don’t worry, the rum will balance it and get it to room temperature).
2) When the dessert is made, put it in the freezer and begin arranging the starter. (It will not take more than 10-15 minutes).
3) Once the puff pastry hearts are in the oven, start the pot of water for the spaghetti on the stove. It should reach the boil once you are done eating your appetizer, and while the noodles are cooking (it usually takes about 13 minutes for the thick spaghetti) you will have time to prepare the pasta sauce. If you want to make sure you are cooking the spaghetti in the authentic Italian way, read this quick tutorial.
4) Enjoy the dessert at any time you please.
5) Please avoid the temptation to cook all at once, and then eating all at once, because a) it is very “not Italian”- eating all different kinds of food at the same time b) each recipe I suggested (besides the dessert) tastes delicious only if eaten still warm.
ONE LAST IMPORTANT DETAIL: The wine pairing. I would like to suggest to you a couple of wines that you can find at ALDI that are absolutely affordable, terrific in taste and authentic Italian. The first one is “Prosecco di Valdobbiadene“- it will be perfect as “aperitif” while you wait for your appetizer to be done, and again while enjoying your dessert. It’s dry with a little sparkle. I think it’s impossible not to fall for it. The second one is the “Alberone“- it’s a red wine, not too full-bodied, but yet very aromatic and absolutely delicious if enjoyed with the spaghetti!
I believe I’ve shared with you all my best suggestions for an easy and affordable romantic, Italian Style home-cooked Valentine’s dinner, but please, if you need more information or have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment!
Happy Valentine’s Day!