This is the second post in our Valentine’s Day series, to help you get ready for Valentine’s Day in a happy and healthy way. We test-drove making the perfect Valentine’s Day meal (cocktail included!) for your sweeheart, friend, roommate or yourself. It’s easy and fresh, with a kick, just like the Neelys!
A few weeks ago, my friend Pam from AA Knopf, came to BBL with an interesting proposition: a joint dinner party in which we make a Valentine’s Day meal from the new The Neelys’ Celebration Cookbook. After taking one look at the recipes and accompanying commentary by Pat and Gina Neely, how could I say no? We made The Sexy Seafood Pasta and the Love Potion #9 Cocktail and both were extraordinary. You’ll find the recipes below, along with those for a few side dishes we didn’t get a chance to try, but that are definitely on the shortlist for VDay 2013!
Here’s my account of cooking with the Neely’s and some tips and tricks I picked up along the way:
Pam had all the ingredients laid out by the time we got to her apartment, so getting started was a snap. Pam chopped the garlic (After an unfortunate run-in with a knife and my hand earlier that week, I tried to stay away from as many sharp objects as possible) while I deveined and cleaned the shrimp:
Tip: Use a good olive, and if you like spiciness like I do, feel free to up the red pepper!
After we prepped all the ingredients, we took a quick break to make the “Love Potion.” As far as cocktails go, these were pretty healthy, made with pomegranate juice and pomegranate seeds (packed with antioxidants!), lemon and lime (full of Vitamin C!). The recipe couldn’t be easier, and the garnish of pomegranate seeds at the end makes for a surprising and healthy snack when you get to the bottom of your glass.
The Pasta and Sauce
We put the pasta on to cook, and then started making the sauce. If you want to go for an extra healthy version, substitute whole wheat pasta for the linguine in the recipe.
Now for the sauce. I’m always a little scared of making tomato sauce from scratch when I could just use a jar. What if I mess it up? But this sauce is so easy to make, there’s very little room for error. We threw everything in the sauce pan and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Then we threw in the mussels and shrimp and let that cook. When those are done (after about 3 minutes), add the pasta, toss, and garnish with fresh basil. Voila!
Serve and enjoy! This recipe serves 4, and there was definitely enough for seconds to go around!
Tip: Add candles for a romantic setting, and serve with a nice bottle of rosé wine.
Get the recipe here: