Cooking for someone on Valentine’s Day – yourself, your partner, your friends, your family, is a wonderful way to show you care. It’s always said – anyone can make a reservation, but it takes some effort and skill to cook a delicious and thoughtful meal. Luckily, this is about the easiest meal to prepare, minimal skill needed, I promise.
This was inspired by a recent interview I read with Gordon Ramsay (who was shockingly not angry during the interview), in which he said one of his favorite things to make for another person was fresh pasta – because you look good rolling it in the kitchen while your date enjoys a glass of wine and watching you cook. Now, you don’t have to make pasta for this (if you’re feeling adventurous or are skilled, go for it), but store-bought fresh or good boxed will work just fine, but you should 100% enjoy a glass of wine with your guests while you make this. Pair with a lightly Italian red from Piedmont (like the red blend above or a Nebbiolo) – this is not the dish for a Barolo, and your wallet will thank you for it. The red berry notes in the wine pair terrifically with the red fruit notes in the tomatoes, and the slight green (some call it mint) in the wine enhances the fresh green, minty, anise notes in the basil.
Use the best ingredients possible for this recipe, it’s 6 ingredients and each shines through. The recipe is for 2.
½ lb pasta (linguine, spaghetti, bucatini) – fresh or good quality dried
2 cloves garlic, smashed, not chopped
1-12 oz. package whole peeled tomatoes (or a great use for your canned tomatoes from the summer)
Approx. 4 basil leaves, chiffonade, plus a couple extra for garnish
Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano, please)
Salt and pepper
- Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and break apart with your hands – you want some larger and some smaller pieces.
- Bring water to a boil for the pasta and drop it in. Cook until al dente.
- While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the garlic. Sauté gently for about 2 min., until fragrant but not browned (definitely toss and start again if you brown it).
- Drop in the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, stir, and cook for 5-7 minutes.
- Add the basil chiffonade and remove from heat.
- Drain pasta and add to the sauce and toss.
- Portion into bowls and grate the cheese over the top.
- Add the basil garnish, pour some more wine, and enjoy.