There are endless amounts of jokes about babies killing the romance in a relationship, and not without reason. It’s hard to feel sexy when you’re both lacking sleep, gaining weight from a diet of exclusively takeout, and in my case, pumping milk every 4 hours. Our bedroom is littered with baby gear and toys, despite our pronouncements that we would never let that happen. I am in sweatpants every day. When James cries, there’s a game of chicken between my husband and I of “who moves first?” But despite all of this, Craig and I have had a surprising number of dates. The trick is that we turn almost anything into a date. James falls asleep and we’ll order take out from a fancier restaurant and watch a movie in the office – rather than reclined in bed with our laptops open. We take the 5:30 dinner reservation or go for a daytime walk together when my mom can babysit. The dinner + movie + drinks combo of pre-baby has been put on hold, but we find ways to still have our own dynamic as a couple, outside of James. So when Valentine’s day popped up on the calendar, I started thinking of ways to have our low key version of it at home. Truth – I don’t like valentine’s day. Not because I’m a black hearted cynic, which I am but, that’s not the reason, but because of the logistics. In LA, it means 4x traffic, surge charges, upcharged pre fixe menus, impossible reservations. It’s a whole thing. So instead, I’m making a meal of Craig and my favorite things that can be done in under 30 minutes, and most of it prepped ahead of time.
Burrata is Craig’s favorite cheese and roasted cherry tomatoes is an easy cheat to concentrate all of the sugar when we’re about as far away from tomato season as can be. The cherry tomatoes can be roasted days ahead and are so delicious with this creamy, milky cheese. If you can’t find burrata, fresh mozzarella works fine as well.
When Craig and I honeymooned in Italy, we tried every Roman pasta, and Amatriciana was my favorite. Inspired by the insanely simple recipe in “Tasting Rome”, this two ingredient pasta sauce is heaven with a giant plate of bucatini peeking out under a mountain of grated pecorinio.
To make the dinner more festive, I did the flower arrangements a little secret message under the wine glasses. Make sure to check out my video series on how to put all of this together. Happy Valentine’s day!
1 pint cherry tomatoes
8 oz burrata
Fresh basil, chiffonade
Sea Salt, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425F. Lay the cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon pad, drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the tomatoes. Roast for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are blistered. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and let them cool a little.
To serve, put the tomatoes on a plate, encircling the edge. Place the burrata in the middle, cutting it open and drizzling with olive oil. Sprinkle a little sea salt over the burrata and finish with fresh basil.
28 oz canned whole tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano)
4 oz guanciale, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (if it has a lot of salt on the crust, scrape it off) (If you can’t find it, use pancettat)
1/2 pound bucatini
Pecorino, for garnnish
Fill a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Add enough salt that it tastes like sea water – pleasantly salty.
While you wait for the water to boil, heat up a saute pan to medium-low heat and add the guanciale. Let it cook slowly, rendering the fat, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Take out the pieces of guanciale and set aside on a plate, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the canned tomatoes to the pan, smash the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon, and turn up the heat to medium. Let the tomatoes cook while you cook the pasta.
Cook the pasta per the box’s instructions, minus 2 minutes. When the pasta is almost done, take it out of the pot (I use tongs or a pasta server) and set into the pan of sauce. Don’t worry about shaking off the water before, the water is nice and starchy and will help it all come together. With a wooden spoon, stir the pasta and the sauce together, adding a little pasta water if you need to thin it out. Cook for two minutes, until the pasta is barely tender and the sauce has a nice sheen to it. Plate the pasta and garnish with freshly grated pecorino.