I cook dinner for my husband pretty much every night, so sometimes it’s hard to think of ways to make an at home date-night seem special. When we first got married I would mark special occasions with heavy meals like lasagna or creamy pastas; it took me a while to figure out that those types of meals make you feel everything BUT romantic!
Something I really love to do for our date nights in are tapas! Tapas are ideal for a romantic meal because they’re mostly finger foods that you can sample without getting stuffed. On top of that, eating so many different flavors really brings the restaurant experience home.
When I’m planning my menu I like to think “simple”. Your date doesn’t want you stressed and sweating in the kitchen- this is about relaxing and enjoying your time together. I like to create 5-6 tapas- a couple that can be made ahead of time and a few that have very simple ingredients. My favorite wine for tapas night is La Crema Monterey Chardonnay; it’s crisp and refreshing which is perfect for pairing with such a wide variety of flavors.
Here are the 6 dishes I served for our Tapas Date Night this weekend. I really focused on an even mix of homemade and store bought to make things simple! Every dish can be mixed and matched: you can dip a ravioli in the marina sauce, lay some beet salad across the warm bread…there are no rules, that’s what makes this style of entertaining so fun!
Fingerling Potatoes with Basil Aioli
- 1 package of fingerling potatoes (I buy the Rosemary and Olive Oil microwaveable container from Trader Joe’s)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil or pre-made pesto
- 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
I popped the Trader Joe’s container in the microwave and heated until cooked through, but if you buy a bag of regular fingerling potatoes drop them in boiling water until tender. Once the potatoes are tender, slice in half lengthwise and toss with olive oil. Put on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and bake at 425 for 15 minutes or until they’re crispy on the outside.
While the potatoes are baking, combine basil, mayo and lemon juice and mix. Serve alongside your potatoes.
This is easy, easy, easy and so good!
- 1 bottle Thai yellow curry sauce (I get mine at Trader Joe’s)
- 1 package of cauliflower florets
Preheat oven at 450. In a large bowl coat cauliflower with curry sauce. I can’t give you an exact measurement since amount will vary based on your cauliflower, but start on the lighter side and work your way up. You want the cauliflower to get crisp, so don’t drench it. Pour mixture onto a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes. That’s it! This recipe is delicious and falls into the “make ahead” category- you can re-warm at 450 for 10 minutes.
Beet, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad
- 1 handful arugula
- 3-4 beats, diced
- 1 oz goat cheese, crumbled
- olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste
- roasted pine nuts (optional)
Grab a handful of arugula and toss it in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a couple drops of balsamic vinegar, toss. Transfer to a plate and top with sliced beats and crumbled goat cheese. You can add roasted pine nuts for a crunchy element if desired.
Homemade Meatballs with Marinara
This is my favorite meatball recipe from Mike Maroni. In my opinion there isn’t a better meatball recipe out there!
- 1 pound ground chuck
- 4 ounces dried bread crumbs
- 4 large eggs
- 4 ounces whole milk
- 6 ounces grated Romano
- 3 ounces grated Spanish onion
- 2 ounces finely diced fresh garlic
- 2 ounces finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 2 ounces finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 3 jars of your favorite marinara
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in large bowl. If mixture seems a little loose add more bread crumbs. Form the meatballs using a tablespoon and place on baking sheet. Place into preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven and simmer in marina for 10 minutes.
You’re going to make a ton more meatballs than you and your sweetheart can eat on date night. I served the meatballs pasta free this weekend, and after work on monday I made some spaghetti and we enjoyed another wonderful dinner! These also freeze well.
Ravioli with Pesto Butter
- Ravioli of choice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil or pre-made pesto
This falls into the super easy category! Simply buy your favorite raviolis (I bought Porcini Mushroom & Truffle Triangoli) and cook according to instructions. In a small microwaveable dish combine basil and butter. Pop in the microwave for 30 secs, stir and pour over your ravioli.
I like doing a very light sauce on these because theres also marinara on the table if you want to give them a dip!
The last touch is simply a nice crusty bread served with a spread or dish of olive oil. I bought an olive tapenade spread and served it with a whole wheat baguette. I brushed the bread with a little olive oil and threw it on my grill pan for a nice toast. Yum!
This was such a memorable date night for us, and I hope you’ll take a stab at your own play on some tapas! Prefer a simple movie night at home with wine and perfectly spiced popcorn? Head over to the La Crema blog to see TeeWii’s favorite wine and a movie pairings!