What are easy yet gourmet recipes for date night at home?

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Answered by: Nora, An Expert in the Cooking for Two Category
So you want to plan date night at home for your significant other? Something special, surprising yet affordable and easy? Me too! I often scour cookbooks and food-blogs hoping to find an answer to my dinner-at-home problems. I want to be inspired to make something "fancy" that feels special. Our date nights are far and in-between. I cannot afford to spend hours and hours in the kitchen slaving over meal prep, when I would rather be spending quality time together. This requires some planning and preparation. So break out the tablecloth, light some candles find a play list and get cooking!For reasons I can't explain, to me, nothing says "I love you" quite like pan-seared sea-scallops. They are something you probably do not cook every day (aka special occasion), easy and almost impossible to overcook. They feel decadent, and luxurious. I especially love them over simple parmesan risotto or pasta.

Staying with the them of: "Affordable Date Night", I chose pasta as a base for my scallops in this recipe. Pan-Seared Scallops with Fettuccine and Lemon-Butter Sauce

(Serves 2)

6-8oz Fresh Diver Scallops (I find this is often 3-4 depending on how big they are)

4-6oz Dried Fettuccine (again, depending on how hungry you are...I always eyeball my pasta measurements)

2/3 TBS Butter (take out a stick and use your judgement)

1 TBS Shallot

2 cloves of garlic

Glug of white wine (this can be omitted)

1 lemon, zest and juice

2-3 TBS Parsley (I always buy it by the bunch, and again cooking should be FUN, use judgement)

1) Fill a large pot with water. Give it a handful of salt (should taste like the ocean), and start that boil!

2) Turn oven to 350. Have a sheet tray lined with tinfoil near by.

3) MISE EN PLACE: finely dice your shallot and garlic, chop your parsley, zest a lemon, pull that butter out from the fridge. Open some wine and relax the rest is child's play.

4) Prepare your scallops. I like to take them out of the refrigerator while I am prepping (and drinking wine) to bring them to more of a room temperature state before shocking them in a warm pan. Remove the little 'muscle' from the side (it looks like a tab) and pat the scallops dry with paper towel. Once excessive moisture is whisked away, sprinkle each side with salt and pepper. I like to give them one more pat with paper towel before putting them in the pan.

5) In a sauté pan, add about 1-2 tsp olive oil and turn the heat to medium. As the oil becomes ready to a faint smoke will appear. If it is "fire department" smokey, you have gone too far and your pan is way too hot. There should be enough olive oil in the pan to just barely coat it. Place scallops in pan and allow to cook 1-2 minutes until they have achieved a golden brown crust. Flip them and allow to cook 30-seconds on the second side. Turn off the heat and remove the scallops, crust side up to the sheet tray. I like to set the sheet tray to the side until I am almost ready with everything...At this point you have cooked them about 2/3 of the way. Placing them in the oven will warm and finish cooking once you are fully prepared.

6) In the same pain you've cooked your scallops in, add a touch more olive oil if the pan is very dry and turn the heat to low.

7) Add shallots and cook until tender. Add garlic and cook until it is tender and aromatic. Add a glug (1-3 TBS) white wine to pan and increase the heat to high. I like to scrape the golden brown bits off the bottom while wine is evaporating.

8) Add butter to the pan. And a squeeze of lemon. Allow to cook until it thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

9) Cook your pasta. When the pasta has 2 minutes left, re-heat your sauce and throw the scallops in the oven.

10) Drain pasta and reserve some of the pasta water.

11) Add pasta to pan with the lemon/butter sauce and mix around.

12) Add a handful of fresh parsley and lemon zest to the pasta (cheese is optional at this point too)

13) Divide pasta and place scallops on top. Finish with more chopped parsley sprinkled over top and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Voila-- Date Night at Home just got a little sexier.

On Wine: I love scallops and chardonnay. Avoid overly oaky styles. Look for Chablis or even village level white burgundy.

Cheers,

Nora

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