Incase you ran out of time to make reservations or hate dealing with the crowds & prix fix menus at restaurants, I have a few ideas that will help you make a special dish to impress your sweetheart this year. You can make these dishes as simple or as elaborate as you would like.
The first is a decadent lasagna that your Valentine will love. The best thing about this recipe is that it is homemade with love but you will have the help of some basic store bought items so you aren't slaving in the kitchen all day. The "gussied up" sauce is a great go to for any quick weeknight pasta dish. I try to make it a habit to always have a jar or 2 of basic marinara sauce in my pantry.
First make the Sauce… Cook 8 oz or Ground beef and 8oz of Italian sausage until brown. Saute in Onion and garlic until translucent. Then add in 2 jars of marinara sauce, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp of salt, a few leaves of fresh, chopped basil and 1 TB of Olive Oil. You can't forget the 1 TB of Sugar to cut the acidity and complete the flavor. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, prepare your cheese layer. In a stand mixer or in a bowl by hand (for a good arm workout) mix together 8 oz of ricotta, 8 oz of cream cheese (whipped will make your life easier), and 1 cup of shredded parmesan until well combined. Also chop about 1 cup of fresh basil and set aside separately.
The noodles you purchase are key to the simplicity of this recipe. Make sure to pick up No-Boil or "oven-ready" lasagna noodles. This eliminates a very messy and time/labor intensive step in preparing your recipe.
Now it's time to compile the lasagna. In a Baking dish (9x 11 or smaller for just 2) layer about 1 cup of sauce into the bottom to cover the dish, then cover with noodles. Add on another layer of sauce then spread on a layer of cheese mixture and sprinkle on the fresh basil. Repeat with the noodles, sauce and cheese 2 more time. For the top layer on sauce then shredded mozzarella. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes covered and an additional 15 minutes uncovered until the cheese is golden brown. Serve hot & enjoy!
Recipes for Decadent Valentine's Day Lasagna:
- 1 Cup Fresh Basil, Chopped
- 1 Box No Boil Lasagna Noodles
- 2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
"Gussied Up" Tomato Sauce
- 2 Jars Marinara Sauce (I like Tomato Basil)
- 1 Onion, Chopped
- 2 TB minced Garlic
- 8 oz Ground Beef
- 8 oz Italian Sausage (removed from casing)
- 1/2 tsp dried Oregano
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 TB Sugar
- 1 TB Olive Oil
- Pepper to taste
- 3 Leaves Fresh Basil, chopped
- 8 oz Ricotta Cheese
- 8 oz Cream Cheese
- 1 Cup Grated or Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1. Prepare Sauce: Cook ground beef and sausage until brown. Add in chopped onions & garlic and sauté until translucent. Add in 2 jars of Marinara sauce and remaining ingredients. Simmer for at least 20 minutes.
2. Prepare Cheese Mixture: In a stand mixer combine all ingredients until well blended.
3. Assemble Lasagna: In a glass baking dish layer 1 cup of Sauce, cover with noodles, add another layer of sauce and spread on 1/3 of cheese mixture, then sprinkle on fresh basil. Add on another layer of noodles to cover. Ladle on more tomato sauce, then cheese, then basil. Cover with noodles and repeat 1 more time. The top layer will consist of remaining sauce covered by shredded Mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for 45 min- covered with aluminum foil. Remove foil and bake for additional 15 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.
To complete the dish, serve it with a nice green salad and pair with red wine. I reached out to my friends at Vino & Friends Bistro for a few suggestions. The first suggestion from Chuck, the owner, is a Montepulciano from Fosso Corno 2012. This light Italian Red makes it a great pairing with a very rich dish, like the lasagna. It is a $13 bottle so it will not break the bank but is great for a special occasion. The next wine is on the higher end of the price spectrum, a Brunello di Montalcino from Col D'orcia, 2008. This wine is offers a full flavor that will pair nicely with the lasagna as well as the Chocolate Dipped Strawberries for dessert.
The last item is one of the most important… well, when it comes to this meal all 3 items are important but here comes the Chocolate!… Stay tuned for more!