Though I am never one to pass up an evening on the town, at-home dates are often some of my favorites.
If you and your sweetheart have no yet decided upon your plans for this love-filled (or should I say, chocolate-filled) weekend, allow me to suggest a date at home. Reservations are not required, crowds are evaded, and attire is left entirely to your discretion - though I would still highly suggest making an effort to look at least moderately gorgeous for your better half.
An at-home date is a chance to serve the person you love in a way that a busy chef or overwhelmed waiter simply cannot. So light some candles, iron the cloth napkins, and treat your Valentine to an elegant dinner at home.
This dish is one of those secret weapon recipes that I pull out frequently. It is the perfect meal in my mind because, it is pretty all-inclusive, meaning that it only takes a simple salad (I’d totally freeze my legs off and defrost the grill to make this Grilled Romaine Salad) to make this a full dinner. It is rich, elegant, creamy, and the best part? This entire dish comes together in thirty minutes, including prep time, which means you are not scurrying in and out of the kitchen all evening. Total win.
It is also stupidly simple, so if you are not entirely comfortable in the kitchen, this is an excellent choice for you.
Gentlemen, I am looking at you. If you make your lady a bowl of indulgent, cream-covered pasta, she will not only be highly impressed, she will love you forever. Unless she’s a vegan in which case… Well, you should probably be reading a different blog.
This recipe has few ingredients so it is essential that they be quality. Purchase a really good New York Strip with even marbling and prepare it simple. A truly good cut of meat needs little adornment. I like to go with a liberal sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
I should mention that I chose to make this sauce with red wine because I was pairing it with steak, but you can certainly use white wine if you would like to use a sautéed chicken breast instead. I have done both and one does not prevail above the other. It just depends on your mood.
Regardless of your wine choice, the aroma of this dish is just sensational. I fall in love all over again every time I make it.
Let's be honest, pasta was my first Valentine.
Dinner is served. Now, if you happen to have some of this Chocolate Salami in your freezer right now for dessert, your work is done.
Light the candles, freshen your perfume or cologne and go find your date. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Pennette with Mushroom Cream Sauce & New York Strip
serves 2, with leftovers / recipe adapted from “Pasta” by Eric Treiulle & Anna De Conte
for the steak
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 New York Strip steak (about 3/4 lb)
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour olive oil into a medium skillet and place over medium-high heat.
Use a paper towel to pat the steak dry, as this will help it to brown properly. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
When the oil in the skillet begins to shimmer, add steak. It should immediately begin to sizzle. If you cannot hear it, the oil is not hot enough. Cook for 5 minutes, until seared and deep brown, and then flip and sear for an additional 5 minutes on the opposite side.
Remove the pan from the heat and place in the oven for 6-8 minutes, depending on your preference.
Cook’s note: In my mind, 6 minutes should be just about perfect (medium rare), but my fiancé prefers medium well, so I typically go for 8 minutes. This will of course change depending on the thickness of your steak, so just keep an eye on it and use a meat thermometer, if necessary.
Allow the steak to rest for 7-10 minutes. If the steak has released any juices in the pan, reserve for later use. While the steak is resting, prepare the pasta.
for the pasta
- 1/2 lb dried pennette*
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced into 1/8 slices
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- finely grated parmesan, for finishing
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; season the water liberally with kosher salt. Add pasta and cook according to the producer’s instructions, or until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.
Place a deep-sided saucepan over medium heat and melt 2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter has melted, add olive oil. When the mixture begins to bubble, add garlic, mushrooms, and kosher salt. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the mushrooms have just begun to brown.
Add wine and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until evaporated, and then add heavy cream. Simmer for 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of parmesan and reserved steak juices.
Add drained pasta directly to the sauce and return to heat to simmer for an additional minute.
Cut the rested steak on the bias, forming 1/4-inch slices. Toss the sliced steak into the pasta.
Serve immediately with a sprinkling of grated parmesan. Enjoy!
*If you are unable to find pennette pasta, penne will substitute nicely.
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