Here’s a true story. The names have been changed.
My friend Bob met a lovely woman on a very popular dating site. Her name was Dominique. One of the things he particularly liked about her profile was that she said she loved to “tinker around the stove top” and “was very intimate with her oven.”
“Writing like this showed she not only had a sense of humor, but revealled she might have some cooking skills,” Bob said as he shared his storied account.
After speaking on the phone, they discovered they both loved Italian food and decided their first date would be to meet at an Italian restaurant.
They met, had immediate chemistry and got along swimmingly (that’s my word) after that first date. Bob and Dominique had three subsequent dates in which he took her to upscale and eclectic restaurants in Los Angeles.
While talking over the phone about their next date, Dominique said,” I would like to invite you out to dinner.”
“Really,” said Bob. “Ok you can pick the restaurant.”
“I have just spot – Casa Domi,” she said.
Bob said he paused a moment and searched his mind for Casa Domi. When he suddenly realized what she meant, she said, “You sir will be dining at my table and I am making one of your favorite entrees – spaghetti with meat sauce.”
Dining at Casa Domi
Bob was really excited about the offer to dine at her table. After all, her profile said “she loved to tinker around the stove top and was very intimate with her oven.” And besides that, he reasoned things must be moving along nicely with his new lady because he got an invite to dinner – something that has rarely happened to him.
When Bob arrived, she greeted him at the door wearing an apron, the sign of a real cook he thought to himself. And the smell of garlic wafting through the air was almost intoxicating.
He sat in the family room adjacent to the kitchen sipping a generous pour of pinot noir she gave in a beautiful etched, long stem wine glass. He could see a pot simmering on the stove top and vegetables for a salad on the cutting board. Bob said he felt like a little boy anxiously waiting for his favorite dish.
The long awaited main course
Dominique called him to the table and they started with a garden salad and garlic bread. After they had finished the salad, she said it was time for the “ll platto principale” which she quipped meant “main course” in Italian.
The bowl of pasta and ground meat she placed in front of him left him almost paralyzed. Never had he seen such an unappealing bowl of contents swimming in a red, waterly liquid.
“It was an absolutely disappointing site Ronni,” said Bob, which is my nickname. “And to make matters worse, it tasted sweet and reminded me of Campbell’s SpaghettiOs with ground turkey pilled on top.
Bob said he struggled through the meal and ate most of it.
Recipe rescue needed
“My lady needed a serious recipe rescue Ronni,” said Bob adding that he just couldn’t bring himself to tell her how awful he thought it was.
My friend Bob is a great guy. He’s stilling seeing his new lady and he asked me for a simple spaghetti recipe he can make when he invites her over for dinner.
This is my go to recipe when I want to make spaghetti that is familiar, yet updated and slightly – if I dare say – elevated. The sauce is rustic and flavorful. The Kalmata olives give it a Mediterranean vibe. The sliced chicken garlic sausage is a healthier choice and takes this dish just beyond ordinary. Using the quick cooking fettuccine noodles makes it quick to get on the table so you can get to the business of enjoying the company of your date.
While this recipe wasn’t the lifeline Dominique needed to save her kitchen credibility, perhaps it could the lifeline to save yours. Oh and by the way – if you are silently saying “thank you,” imagine me saying “you are welcome.”
Easy Date Night Pasta
A fresh, light, Italian-inspired pasta recipe perfect for an intimate dinner.
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/3 cup Kalmata olives, halved
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Cracked pepper to taste
1 pound Hillshire chicken garlic sausage, sliced
1 -15 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes )
1-8 ounce can tomato sauce (El Patio Salsa de Jalapeno featured here; for saucier dish use two cans and increase salt and oregano to taste)
Olive oil for sautéing
1/3 cup olive oil
Pasta (this recipe used about 8 ounces of al dente Artisanal egg fettuccine noodles)
Fresh chopped basil or flat leaf parsley
Grated Parmesan cheese
1. Fill a large Dutch oven pot with 5 quarts of water. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil.
2. Next, to a large non-stick skillet set on medium heat, add 3 tablespoons olive. When oil is heated, add chopped bell pepper and onions. Sauté 2-3 minutes until tender, stirring frequently.
3. Add garlic, chopped oregano and halved Kalmata olives and sauté until garlic is fragrant, stirring frequently, about an additional 1-2 minutes.
4. Add can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, 1/3 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to the skillet. Stir well. Cover and simmer slowly for 15 minutes.
5. To a separate non stick pan, add a little olive oil and lightly brown sausage slices on each side. Once browned, remove from pan and set aside on a plate lined with a paper towel.
6. Add pasta to the water, which should be boiling vigorously at this point. Cook pasta according to al dente instructions.
7. Once pasta is done, drain thoroughly and add pasta along with browned sausage slices to simmering tomato mixture. Use a large wooden spoon or thongs to gently toss and incorporate noodles and sausage into the sauce. Turn off heat and cover.
8. Serve with fresh chopped basil or flat leaf parsley and Parmesan cheese. Makes about 4 servings.
Simple ingredients make this dish easy and delicious.
This sauté of onions, bell pepper, garlic, chopped oregano, oregano and halved Kalmata olives is intoxicating.
All ingredients incorporated and pasta is ready to be plated.
Easy Date Night Pasta plated with fresh chopped flat leaf parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.