There's no need to make dinner reservations at an expensive restaurant for Valentine's Day this year.
We think staying in is the new sexy. That's why we've cooked up our own Dinner For Two series by serving up a mouthwatering menu that's sure to impress your sweetheart — sneakily flavored with aphrodisiac ingredients, like these beet-red ravioli hearts.
We all know beets are a tasty vegetable whether boiled, roasted or even used for coloring. for have a long history as a lesser-known aphrodisiac. Ancient Roman men considered beets to be a natural Viagara (which might explain why The Lupanare — the official brothel in the ruined city of Pompeii — has its walls adorned with pictures of beetroots). Even today, scientists believe that the high boron content of beets helps keep the body's sex hormones at healthy levels. On top of that, they're rich in iron and potassium, which are both essential for sexual health. So naturally, we couldn't resist this heartmelting recipe for beet ravioli. Pair this dish with a smooth mimosa, berry bruschetta and a batch of artful mulled wine plum rose tarts drizzled with dark chocolate ganache, and you've got yourselves one sexy meal!
The Drink: Vanilla Pear Mimosa
By ©2014 A.J. Rathbun and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press (Wine Cocktails)
- ice cubes
- 3 oz vanilla flavored vodka
- 1 1⁄2 ounces pear nectar
- chilled Prosecco
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka and pear nectar.
2. Shake well (while thinking, "What name approximates the essence of these things I'm combining?").
3. Strain the to-be-renamed mixture equally into 2 flute glasses. Top off each glass with Prosecco. Let your imagination loose.
The Appetizer: "Strawberries On A Cloud"
By Tina Ruggiero of The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook
- 1 tbsp / 15 ml balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp / 45 ml olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1/2 of a baguette, sliced on the diagonal into 6 slices
- 1 cup / 170 g roughly chopped strawberries
- 2 tbsp / 20 g finely chopped red onion
- 2 tsp / 1.8 g basil leaves, finely sliced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 tbsp / 94 g part-skim ricotta
- 2 tbsp / 10 g finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/4 tsp thyme leaves
- 1/4 Tsp finely grated garlic
- Several grates of fresh nutmeg
- 1 cup / 67 g arugula leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
1. Preheat oven to 350F° or gas mark 4, in a small bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and then stir in the smashed garlic. Set aside.
2. Place the baguette slices on a baking tray. Bake until golden but still slightly soft in the middle, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Toasted bread can be made ahead and kept in an airtight container for 2 weeks.
3. In a small bowl, combine the strawberries, red onion, basil, and 1 teaspoon / 5 milliliters of vinaigrette. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. In another small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmigiano, thyme, grated garlic, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper.
5. To assemble, place arugula in a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon / 5 milliliters vinaigrette. Divide the arugula leaves among the toasted bread. Top with ricotta mixture and finally the strawberry mixture.
Tina's tip: try this with any fruit that's in season from cherries to peaches to grapes, or a mixture of all three!
The Main Dish: Beet & Chèvre Ravioli Hearts
By Carey Nershi of Reclaiming Provinicial
yield: approximately 2 1/2 dozen ravioli
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 3 egg yolks
- around 1/3 to 1/2 cup of beet juice
- 3 large beets (approximately 1 1/2 lbs)
- 4 oz. of chèvre (herbed, preferably)
- 1–2 tbsp of water
- salt, to taste
Roast the beets
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pierce the beets a few times, then place in a baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for approximately 1 hour, or until beets are tender. Remove from the oven and let cool, then peel.
Prepare the filling
- Ready your food processor with the grater attachment. Chop the beets in half or thirds (whatever will fit), then grate. Switch to the chopping blade. Add a tablespoon or two of water, then pulse until everything is finely chopped. (If you don't have a food processor, grate the beets, then finely chop them with a sharp knife. Transfer them to a bowl, then add the water and stir.)
- Transfer the remaining beet pulp to a bowl. Stir in the chèvre until evenly-distributed, then add salt to taste. Set aside.
To make the dough
- Add flour to a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the yolks and the beet juice, then stir to combine. When you can no longer mix with a fork, turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead until smooth.
- Roll the dough out into a large, even rectangle approximately 1/16 of an inch thick. Cut the rectangle in half.
- Grab about a tablespoon of filling (or whatever will work best for the size of cookie cutter you're using) and mold it into a heart shape. Arrange filling hearts about an inch apart from each other until you've covered half of the dough (there should be some filling left over).
The Dessert: Mulled Wine Plum Rose Tarts
By Demetria Provatas of Engrained
Makes 12 tarts
- 12 plums
- 2 cups mulled wine
- 1 cup dark chocolate ganache
- Chocolate tart dough
1. Make and par bake 12 chocolate tart shells. Martha's recipe works well.
2. Begin reducing 1 1/2 cups mulled wine.
3. Slice all 12 plums so that each slice is about 1/4" thick, and place in pot with 1 cup of sugar and about 1/2 cup of mulled wine. Put on medium low heat and stir until the plums have softened enough that they are flexible, about 15-20 minutes.
4. Spoon in the dark chocolate ganache into each tart shell so that it fills about 1/4 of the tart.
5. At this point the mulled wine should have reduced to a thick syrup. Drizzle in the reduction onto the layer of ganache.
6. Now you can make your plum roses! Begin by taking about 5 slices of the plums and laying them so that they are nearly upright, skin side facing up towards you, around the perimeter of the tart. Then continue to do this along the perimeter of the plums you just added, alternating the order so that the peak of each slice is placed right on where the previous two slices meet. Continue to do this until you get to the middle. When it is no longer possible to layer them, take one plum slice and roll into a little scroll, place the scroll skin side up right in the middle of the tart and there you go! Beautiful roses.
7. Bake the tarts for about 8 — 10 minutes and then there you go! Warm and rich winter sweets.
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