Italy must surely be one of the most romantic countries in the world. Not only has it got more than its fair share of picturesque cities – notably Venice, Rome and Florence – but it also has an extraordinary number of artistic masterpieces, glorious countryside, seductive shops and, of course, delicious food. So what could be more appropriate for a special St Valentine’s Day meal, than an Italian menu? Here are some ideas to put the romance into that special supper.
The Love of Home-Baked Bread
The taste of home-baked bread is quite delicious, so if you want to impress your lover you might like to try making your own Italian bread. It would make a great starter for your Valentine’s meal. If you’re well organised – you need to start a day in advance – you could try this recipe for ciabatta rolls. Ciabatta is an Italian bread that’s made with olive oil.
If you’re not confident in your bread-making abilities, then buy some delicious Italian bread and pop it on the table together with good quality olive oil. Then serve it with a simple starter, like a pasta salad (if you’re not having pasta or rice for a main course) or a light mozzarella salad. For this, just take some fresh, well flavoured tomatoes (plum if you can get them), mozzarella cheese, fresh basil – and perhaps an avocado. Cut the tomatoes and mozzarella (and avocado if you’re using it) into slices and layer them on a plate. Top with the fresh basil leaves, freshly grated black pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil. Delicious.
Seductive Creamy Risottos
The rich, creamy texture of a good risotto is wonderfully seductive, so perfect for a Valentine’s Day meal. You could try this recipe for Champagne Risotto, or make a risotto with fresh spring vegetables, with gorgonzola cheese, or tasty mushrooms. Remember that you’ll have to stand in the kitchen stirring the risotto – this could be great if your lover wants to help; not so great if you get hot and bothered when you’re cooking. Other options might be a fillet of beef served with black truffles, some homemade ravioli, a wonderfully easy aubergine parmesan or even a light lemon pasta (which would allow you to serve up a really rich dessert).
Tempting Valentine’s Chocolate Desserts
The obvious choice for a St Valentine’s Day dessert is chocolate – and there are plenty of wonderfully tempting Italian chocolate desserts to choose. This recipe for Dark Chocolate and Basil Fondants is delicious, while profiteroles are always popular. And don’t forget classic Italian desserts such as crème caramel, boozy tiramisu and creamy panna cotta. They’re simple, but delicious. If you want to play safe, then go for ice-cream. You can make your own Italian ice-cream or sorbet (there’s a lovely fresh sorbet with rose-petals on these pages) or just buy one in your local deli.
Enjoy your Italian Valentine’s meal with a glass or two of sparkling prosecco to start. Then continue the Italian theme with classic red wines such as Chianti Classico or Brunello di Montalcino, or a white wine like Vernaccia di San Gimignano – which was served at royal weddings during the Renaissance. Irresistible.