Sausages, ribs and pasta |

Planning a delicious and romantic evening doesn’t have to take you farther than your own kitchen. You don’t have to be an accomplished chef to set the table for romance, but you can take inspiration from simple, quality Italian dishes to celebrate the connection between food and love.

As these recipes show, a romantic meal can be ready in minutes or, like a grand romance, simmered to perfection. To plan the ultimate date at home, start by picking one of these dreamy main courses made with mouth-watering sauces.

Once you’ve selected your main course, whip up a simple green salad with a drizzle of Italian dressing or Caesar dressing. Put a loaf of fresh Italian bread or focaccia in the oven to warm it up and serve it with butter or olive oil for dipping. If you feel like it, finish the meal with a classic Italian dessert from your local bakery, such as tiramisu, cannoli or a creamy panna cotta topped with fresh fruit.

Stew of beef ribs braised in red wine.

Braised Beef Rib Stew in Red Wine
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 pounds bone-in beef ribs
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 small onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 glass of red wine
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 sprigs of fresh sage leaves, chopped
8 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 jar marinara sauce
2 cups beef bone broth
the water
24 ounces pappardelle pasta or favorite pasta
freshly grated parmesan cheese, for garnish

Heat the oven to 350 F.

In a 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Season short ribs with salt and ground black pepper, to taste. Place a layer of short ribs in the pot. Reserve the remaining ribs.

Cook the ribs 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining short ribs.

Add the celery, carrots and onion to the pan used to brown the ribs. Stir and cook until vegetables are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Add garlic and stir 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato paste. Cook 2-3 minutes.

Gently pour the red wine into the pot.

Stir and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook 3-4 minutes until the wine is almost completely absorbed by the vegetables.

Add the rosemary, sage, thyme and bay leaves to the pan. Add sauce, bone broth and browned ribs. Cover pot and bake 2 1/2-3 hours, or until ribs are tender.

Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the ribs to a plate or cutting board. Remove and discard herb stalks and bay leaves. Remove the bones from the ribs then shred the meat into bite-sized pieces using two forks or tongs. Return the ribs to the pot with the stew. Stir to combine. Put aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the pappardelle pasta until al dente. Add the drained pasta to the pot with the beef stew and stir until combined.

Garnish with freshly grated parmesan.

Image of Italian sausages with spinach and tomato rigatoni.

Spinach and tomato rigatoni with Italian sausage.

Spinach and Tomato Rigatoni with Italian Sausage
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

The water
1/2 box of rigatoni pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
16 ounces mild Italian sausage
1 jar marinara sauce
2 cups fresh baby spinach
salt, to taste
Pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the rigatoni pasta until al dente. Drain and reserve.

In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté until the vegetables begin to brown. Add Italian sausage and cook until cooked, breaking into small pieces. Add the sauce and bring to a low boil.

Add baby spinach. Cook until spinach is almost wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the drained pasta to the pan along with the sausages and sauce. Mix and divide between your plates. Garnish with Parmesan.

Image of Creamy Italian Garlic Chicken Pasta.

Creamy Italian Garlic Chicken Pasta.

Creamy Italian Chicken Garlic Pasta
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large chicken breasts
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt, to taste
Pepper to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup onions, chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips
2 tablespoons capers, drained
6 fresh basil leaves, sliced
1 jar creamy pink or marinara sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
the water
1/2 box Casarecce or favorite pasta
parsley, to garnish
Parmesan cheese, for garnish

In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Season the chicken with the Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Sear chicken breasts on both sides until golden brown. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Add the garlic and onions to the hot skillet. Cook until it begins to brown. Add sun-dried tomatoes, capers and basil; stir. Add sauce and heavy cream; cook until mixture begins to boil.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the Casarecce pasta until al dente. Divide the pasta between two plates. Place a chicken breast over the pasta on each plate and top with additional sauce, parsley and Parmesan cheese.