A romantic dinner on Valentine’s Day doesn’t always mean going out to your favorite restaurant. You can avoid the rush and if you have failed to make reservations, avoid the wait! This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday so you can make it a night of romance by preparing a lovely dinner together at home. Visit a restaurant on Saturday or Sunday to celebrate again!
For a wine, you may want to choose one from Sicily. For a medium-bodied red, try a Nero d’Avola or a Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, each pairs beautifully with the filet mignon and amaretto sweet potato recipe below. Most of all, enjoy this most romantic of weekends with the one that you love.
Hearts of Palm Salad
1 can Hearts of Palm
4 oz Taleggio cheese
2 roasted red peppers
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
handful Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 head of lettuce
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Drain and rinse the hearts of palm and cut into pieces about 3/8 inch long. Remove the center core from each piece and stuff with Taleggio cheese (which is a semi soft cheese). Add to a medium-sized bowl. Cut the roasted peppers into similar sized pieces and add to the bowl. The plum tomatoes should be chopped into chucks that are a little larger than the Hearts of Palm, then add to the bowl with the chopped parsley and mix. Place a bed of lettuce in each salad bowl and add the salad mixture.
To make the dressing, mix together a tablespoon of champagne vinegar and some salt and pepper. Whisk in ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.
Angel Hair with Tomato Mascarpone Sauce
Serves two, adjust if preparing for a larger group
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, roughly sliced
salt and pepper
1 large can crushed tomatoes
handful fresh basil
fresh flat parsley
4 tbsp mascarpone cheese
3/4 lb angel hair pasta
Parmigiano cheese, grated
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, basil and parsley and sauté over a medium flame until garlic is just golden brown. Add the tomato, salt and pepper and increase the flame to medium high. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for about 35 minutes. Let it cool down and add the mascarpone until it blends in and sauce is pink. Add more cheese if you like. Make pasta according to directions. Pour over the pasta, mix and sprinkle with Parmigiano before serving.
Filet Mignon with Amaretto Sweet Potatoes
2 tsp butter, slightly softened
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp chopped fresh chives, chopped
2 small sweet potato (about 6-7 oz each)
3 oz cup milk
2 tsp amaretto
1-2 amaretto cookies
1 oz slivered almonds
3/4 tsp ground pepper, divided
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 small bunch asparagus, trimmed
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 six oz filet mignon steaks, about 1 1/4 inches thick
Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine butter, garlic and herbs in a small bowl. Set aside.
Peel the sweet potatoes into ½-inch pieces. Bring an inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add the sweet potatoes, cover and steam until tender, 12-15 minutes. Or you can microwave them, 5 minutes each. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the milk, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add 2 teaspoons of amaretto and mash with a large fork or potato masher to desired consistency. Taste and add more amaretto, if desired – remember, a little goes a long way! Cover and keep warm. When ready to serve, portion onto each dish and grate an amaretto cookie over the sweet potatoes.
Toss the asparagus with 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Place the asparagus on one half of a large rimmed baking sheet and roast until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.
Pat the steaks dry and season both sides with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the steaks, turning once, until browned on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove the asparagus from the oven, stir and add the slivered almonds. Place the seared steaks on the empty half of the baking sheet. Return to the oven and broil until the asparagus has softened and the steaks are cooked to desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer each steak to a plate and top each one with 1 teaspoon of the herb butter. Serve with the asparagus and sweet potatoes.
1 oz Limoncello
2 oz sugar
3 oz water
3 oz white chocolate
1 tbsp unsalted butter
3 oz mascarpone cheese
2 egg yolks
1/2 lemon, zest only
3 oz whipping cream
Add water and sugar to a saucepan and slowly bring to a low boil until the sugar dissolves. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks until fluffy and slowly add the sugar water. Beat until fully incorporated.
In a double boiler, add the white chocolate and butter. Heat over a medium flame until melted and mix until smooth. Remove from the flame and allow to cool for 10 minutes and then slowly add to the egg mixture. Add the Limoncello and mix well. Next, fold in the mascarpone.
Beat the whipping cream until it is light, fluffy and has stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream and lemon zest into chocolate mascarpone mixture and blend well.
Pour mixture into glasses or tumblers of your choice and refrigerate a minimum of 6 hours. Garnish with white chocolate, candied fruit or fresh berries.