You know when you're dating someone...and you do the first date (maybe a drink, to see if you like each other), and then a second date (possibly doing dinner, maybe a movie), perhaps a third date (something a little more casual but still romantic because now know you actually like each other) and then, inevitably someone is going to invite someone over for a home-cooked meal.
Ahhh, the dinner date at home...your chance to buy a nice bottle of wine and impress your date with your skills in the kitchen. But it's a challenge, what should you make? You have to rule out something with too much garlic or onion (kiss-ruining ingredients), anything too spicy and anything too 'out there.' My rule for the dinner-at-home date? Make pasta.
Everyone loves pasta and its carby-goodness. In my opinion you should pick a pasta recipe that allows your date to help you in the kitchen and is simple enough that you can sip wine and chat while you work.
So where am I going with this?
Well, you can thank me later because I've found the perfect date night recipe. Linguine carbonara my friends (AND it's healthy-ish! Score!). This recipe tastes impressive - the sauce is creamy and rich, and the pancetta takes it over the top. I also love the way the parsley cuts through the richness and adds a really fresh flavor. The onions and garlic season this perfectly (without requiring you to need a mint afterwards) and you won't feel overly full (especially since the recipe makes exactly two servings). This recipe is a lightened up version of a carbonara sauce (which often has more cheese and egg and more pancetta)...plus it's quick and fun to make.
This dish needs to be served as soon as it's ready, so don't make it in advance. You can ask your date to help you chop and stir and then enjoy the meal together. Now get out there and get your romance on - let me know how it goes!
PS - need a wine to pair with this? Try a red wine with a high acidity (to cut through the creaminess of the sauce), but not too heavy or if you like white, try a Sauvignon Blanc. Personally, I think you should go full throttle and drink champagne ;).
Linguine Carbonara (from Cooking Light)
Yield: 2 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups)
1. Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
2. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a small bowl; set milk mixture aside.
3. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pancetta to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until onion is lightly browned. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add milk mixture and pasta to pan; toss gently to coat.
4. Place egg in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Gradually add 1/4 cup reserved hot cooking liquid, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add egg mixture to pan, stirring constantly; cook 4 minutes or until sauce is thick and creamy.