When February 14 rolls around, it’s no longer “just dinner.” It’s a meal with an extra-special halo that underlines, bolds and italicizes how much you care about and appreciate your loved ones. Whether you’re cooking for your partner-in-crime or the entire family, read on for three recipes that are bound to knock everyone’s socks off. That’s amore.
Pici alla Diavola (Pici Pasta with Spicy Tomato Sauce) – Serves 2
Panzano (Denver, CO)
Executive Chef Elise Wiggins
“Pici alla Diavola is a hand rolled thick pasta like spaghetti and best served with a spicy tomato sauce. Chilis are known to be a scientifically proven aphrodisiac. It causes your heart to beat a little faster! Once the pasta’s ready, I would pair it with red wine and watch Disney’s ‘Lady and the Tramp’ for an out-of-the-box romantic evening.”
- ½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ fresh calabrian chili pepper
- 9 oz whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
- Red pepper flakes
- ½ lb fresh pici pasta or thick-cut spaghetti
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt to make it almost taste like sea water.
- Heat the olive oil, garlic and hot peppers in a large 12 to 14-inch sauté pan until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper, adding more hot peppers or red pepper flakes to make it spicier, if desired.
- When the water has come to a boil, add 2 tablespoons of salt. Add the fresh pasta and cook for about 3 minutes or according to package instructions if store-bought. Drain the pasta and reserve a ½ cup of the pasta water.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and cook for about 1 minute, adding pasta water as needed to make the sauce slightly loose and glossy.
- Top with basil and serve immediately.
Crunchy Rice – Serves 4 to 6
Scala’s Bistro (San Francisco, CA)
Executive Chef Larry Finn
“The kids love to help cook. One of their favorite side dishes is one my mom used to make called Crunchy Rice. We generally pair this with grilled chicken or pork and a mixed green salad or Caesar salad. The proteins are simply seasoned with kosher salt and pepper and grilled outside for minimal indoor clean-up.”
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
- ½ Spanish onion, diced
- 1/3 bag of egg noodles
- 1 cup uncooked white rice
- 3 cups chicken stock or preferred broth
- Add grapeseed oil to a sauté pan over medium heat.
- Add egg noodles and cook until golden brown.
- Add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until translucent or tender.
- Add the rice and season with salt and pepper, stirring often.
- Add the chicken stock and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook until the liquid has evaporated.
- Continue to cook over low heat to crisp the rice on the bottom – don’t stir or move the rice mixture.
- Once the rice is crisp, take a spatula and stir the mixture to mix and serve as a side dish.
Classic Potato Gnocci – Serves 6
Poste Moderne Brasserie (Washington, DC)
Executive Chef Kyoo Eom
“I love to cook gnocchi because it’s a quick and easy recipe but one that’s a hit with my family. I’d rather be spending more quality time with them than being stuck in the kitchen cooking an elaborate meal!”
- 4 potatoes
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup “00” flour (a type of flour that’s finely ground and low in protein – also great for pizza crust)
- 1 small shallot, diced
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 oz white wine
- 1 qt heavy cream
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt & pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 400F.
- Put layer of kosher salt on a baking sheet and bake the potatoes upside down for 30 minutes until easily pierced with a fork.
- Peel the potatoes and put into ricer or food mill.
- Add flour, egg, butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well, but don’t work them too much, or they’ll get gummy.
- Roll the dough on floured service with hands until about a half inch diameter. Cut them with a knife about 1 inch in length.
- In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the shallot. Sweat them out until translucent.
- Add the white wine and deglaze.
- Add the heavy cream and reduce the heat slightly.
- Blanch the gnocchi in boiling water. Take them out when they have floated to the top to the water.
- Put them into 6 bowls.
- Add handful of grated parmesan cheese.
- Season with salt and pepper.