Based on previous Valentines dining experiences, I came to realize that, for numerous reasons, the experience of dining in is much better than going to a restaurant. Here is why:
- With very few exceptions, it is nearly impossible to find a babysitter who is ready to disappoint her date to babysit your kids instead. That’s of course unless she is saving for her wedding party.
- If Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday, you are probably close to having a Cinderella’s experience-toiling in the morning and feting at night. Realistically speaking, morphing to a marvelous princess, who is worth of a romantic dinner, calls significantly for additional time and energy on a hectic busy day.
- Heavy traffic and problematic parking are both inauspicious intro to a romantic dinner. I still keep that vivid memory of walking in high heels, on a bitter cold Valentine’s night, for a good twenty minutes to reach our dinner destination.
- Service is naturally slow on Valentine’s. Waiters are understandably overworked and grumpy. If you are lucky to get the same dish you ordered, in the first place, chances are that the food is cold, undercooked or overcooked. I had to eat once a meal that was different from the one I ordered, simply because I was too tired and hungry to wait for another 40 minutes.
Are you sold or not yet? If yes, try this beet pasta starter to dazzle your date. I found this glutten-free beet linguini in an independent grocery store. The pasta is made of semolina and beet, so it inherits the earthy flavor and the sweetness of the red root vegetable. Beware that given the absence of gluten, the pasta begs for a delicate cooking. A generous pour of oil in the cooking liquid is a plus, as this pasta tends towards lumpiness. Well-browned mushrooms glistening in butter, garlic and cognac sauce is a Michelin star formula that you should not shy away from.
Enjoy this gluten-free starter and spare those extra calories for your plush steak and/or your aphrodisiac chocolaty dessert. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
Beet Linguini in Mushrooms-Cognac Sauce
Serves 2 people
- 400 grams beet linguini
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoon butter, separated
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 glove garlic, crushed
- 1 cup white and brown cap mushrooms, quartered
- 2 tablespoon cognac
- 1 cup of vegetable stock
- 200 grams crumbled blue cheese (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Make the Pasta. Fill a 3/4 of a big heavy bottom pot with water, add the salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and the oil for 8 minutes until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta.
- Make the sauce. In a large frying pan, on medium heat add the butter and the oil and let them sizzle. Add the mushrooms and brown all sides. Add the crushed garlic and stir one minute until it is fragrant. Don’t walk away as the garlic turns dark and bitter in a blink of eye. Add two tablespoons of cognac to the mushroom and let the sauce simmer for one to two minutes. Add the vegetable or chicken stock and let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Add a tablespoon of butter and turn off the heat.
- Add the pasta to the sauce pan and make sure the sauce covers every string of the linguini.
- Garnish with fresh parsley leaves or dill and serve immediately.
- This pasta is better served hot.
- Adding cream to the sauce is a good option for a hearty version of the same dish.
- Blue cheese is an optional ingredient that pairs well with beets and balances its sweetness.