There’s been a lot of fuss about this upcoming Valentine’s Day, and about cooking for someone in general. One redditor suggested that for V-Day, you should “[b]e her renaissance man,” and that, when cooking for someone, you should “[s]ee that project through, from choosing the right ingredients, to the right music selection, to the perfect message, to impeccable timing.”
To that, I say, “Nonsense!” Don’t get me wrong, if you really are a Renaissance man or woman, go for it. If you have the skill to make an intensely labored-over, fancy meal, complete with the perfect atmosphere and presentation, I tip my metaphorical hat to you. However, when did that become the expectation for romantic meals?
The perfect meal for Valentine’s Day, to me, is like a great relationship: romantic, well-balanced, comfortable, flavorful, and fun. If it’s something you have to put too much work into or become too stressed over, it’s just not right. When I think of a good meal for romance, I don’t think of some complex French haute cuisine. I think of a big plate of Spaghetti and Meatballs.
The horror! The blasphemy! But why?! I’ll tell you why; Because it tastes great, when done well. If you can perfect the meatball and marinara, serve it with some garlic bread or garlic knots, and throw in a great wine, you’ve got a heck of a satisfying and impressive meal. The steps aren’t too labor-intensive, so you don’t wind up anxiety-ridden or with a botched meal, and there is a lot of room to make it your own.
To set the mood of the meal, feel free to add a candle or two, and that’s all you really need to do. If you don’t believe me, try to think of the most romantic dinner scene that you can remember. Was it the scene from Lady and the Tramp with the spaghetti-induced kiss? That scene has been the epitome of a romantic meal since 1955, and has been shared for generations. While sharing a plate of spaghetti might be a bit messy, it opens the meal up for a mash-up of silliness and sweetness that you’ll remember for years to come. If that’s not your style, using two plates is fine, as long as you at least make a joke about the spaghetti-kiss. It’s a must.
As I’ve said before, perfecting the meatball and marinara is key, so I’m here to share my recipes for both. Follow this link to see yesterday’s post containing the marinara recipe, and scroll down to find out how to make the Best Italian Meatballs You Will Ever Eat.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, very finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
- ½ lb ground veal
- ½ lb ground pork
- ½ lb ground beef
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- ½ cup milk
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Add the olive oil to a large pan and place over medium-high heat. Add the onions, season them with about a half teaspoon of salt, and cook for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the minced garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, or until browned.
- In a large bowl, add the veal, beef, pork, eggs, cheese, herbs, and bread crumbs. Using your hands, combine the ingredients. Add the onion and garlic and season with another teaspoon or so of salt. Mix again, using your hands. Then, add the milk, and mix once more.
- Shape the meatballs to whatever size you’d like. You can use an ice cream scoop if you find it important that all of your meatballs are the same size. I just wing it.
- Oil a large pan and place over medium-high heat. Give the pan a few minutes to heat up. Add the meatballs, turning them occasionally to ensure that all sides of the meatball are browned.
- Place the browned meatballs on a cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes. Larger meatballs may require additional time.
- Add to marinara sauce as it simmers, freeze for later, or eat them plain!