Besides a sky-written message, nothing says ‘I love you’ quite like a home cooked meal. The final result not only tastes good (hopefully), but it shows your significant other that you’ve taken the time to plan ahead and impress them. For those of you considering staying in for Valentine’s Day, we caught up with local foodie and Richmond blogger, Tim Vidra of the E.A.T. blog, for some suggestions for an easy yet impressive Valentine’s Day dinner. Before getting into the kitchen, we met up with Tim at our neighborhood butcher, Belmont Butchery, to source local ingredients for the recipe, and to find out more about his love of food.
How’d you first get into food and cooking?
Well, I was born hungry. I credit both my grandparents and parents as role models for cooking at home, utilizing fruits and vegetables from their own gardens always, as a way of life. If you ate tomatoes in the dead of winter, they came from the summer garden and had been canned that year. I do enjoy eating out and trying new things, though sitting down and eating something you have created at home really is what I enjoy most.
Can you tell us more about your blog, E.A.T.?
In a nutshell, E.A.T. advocates the use of simple local ingredients, sharing easy tips for how to incorporate them into dishes that will impress, supporting local business, sourcing local products, eating locally and eating well. It’s also evolved into an archive of sorts that I enjoy (and hope others do as well) referencing back to for my favorite recipes.
How would you describe the food culture of Richmond, Virginia?
I believe Richmond food culture is ever changing and not just rolling with the latest fad or trend in the food world. These restaurants are putting out what the Richmond dining scene wants to see, creating meals that speak to the history of the city, sourcing ingredients locally, and all the while keeping it fresh and creative.
What are the most important elements of treating your significant other to a great evening on Valentine’s Day?
Well, making everyday a Valentine’s Day of sorts. Sure — the card, flowers, and sweets can never hurt on the big day, but the fact that you do not need a special holiday to let the person know how loved or needed can be the best treat of all.
How will you be celebrating Valentines Day this year?
My wife and I will actually be in New York City all of next week, including Valentine’s Day. You would think with being in the food mecca of the world that a fancy dinner out would be in order. We probably will not be joining the masses and instead opting for a quiet movie in with several slices of Brooklyn’s finest pizza delivery.
Tim’s Valentines Day Pasta Recipe For Two
Pasta can be simple and elegant all at the same time. For more time to enjoy this holiday with your loved one, you can make the sauce several days in advance, then heat and toss with fresh noodles to serve.
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage (casing removed)
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
We are putting the vegetables below in a food processor so you do not have to be precise when cutting these up — just small enough to put into the processor:
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery ribs
- 1 large yellow onion, quartered
- 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
- 3 cloves of garlic
All of the above vegetables should be pulsed in a food processor until finely chopped. See picture of chopped veggies in the bowl for reference.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup of chicken broth or turkey broth
- 1/2 cup of red or white wine
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 12 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 box of whole wheat penne pasta
- Fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated for garnishing
- More fresh parsley, chopped for garnishing
- Remove the casing from the sausage and discard. Heat the oil until shimmering in a pan add the Italian sausage first, breaking it up with a fork as it cooks and crumbles. Add the pork and cook until done. Pork will not brown like hamburger so when it starts to crumble, it is done. Reserve in a bowl and save 2 tablespoons of drippings
- Add the vegetables to the pan, stirring and coating with the drippings from the meat.
- Once the vegetables are soft, add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the broth, white wine, and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes and continue simmering for 10 minutes, then return the meat to the sauce and stir.
- Add 1 cup of water and allow the sauce to slowly simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Remember, this prep work can all be done Sunday. Once finished, remove sauce, allow to cool and store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Cook the pasta according to the directions (reserving some of the pasta liquid) and heat the sauce in a pan. Once the sauce is heated add the cooked noodles to the pan, adding a little of the cooking liquid from the noodles. Toss to coat evenly. You want to go light on the sauce enough to coat the noodles but not drown them.
- Finish with fresh Parmesan and chopped parsley.
Visit Tim’s blog for more cooking recipe ideas, dining and thoughts on cuisine.
All recipe photographs were taken by Tim