Monday, February 4, 2013

A Valentine's Day Redo: A Romantic Evening at Home with La Romanella Pasta

When I think of Valentine's Day I can't help but feel a little sad then giggle about one of the first few Valentine's my husband and I had when we first were married. It was about 10 years ago I tried to create my version of an Italian restaurant for my husband. He was working as a chef at the time constantly cooking at home and work. I wanted to surprise him and have a big Italian dinner ready for him when he arrived home from work on Valentines. I decorated the dining room to make it look like my version of a romantic Italian restaurant. I used sheets to make a cute little enclosed area, had a hand written menu with what I was serving, picked out the perfect movie, had candles lit, it was perfect.

When he got home he was sick! He had the stomach flu from work. Throwing up, dizzy, so sick it was sad!! He came in saw all my stuff said it was beautiful, that he was sorry and then went to bed. I sat there alone eating my spaghetti, bread, appetizers and watched a movie by myself. Saddest Valentine's Day ever lol.

We have had many great Valentine's Days since then but I have not attempted to cook a romantic Italian dinner for him since that failed attempt. I thought this year would be perfect to make him a dinner like that again since he is now a stay at home Dad that cooks and cleans all day while I work.

We love spinach and artichokes in our house so I found a recipe that I knew would be perfect for making a Valentine's Day redo. I adapted the recipe to our tastes to make it even more special. I headed to Smart & Final to do my shopping since I knew that had La Romanella Pasta Sauce that I like. I picked up items for my Baked Ziti with Spinach, Artichokes, Olives and Pesto for the main dish and Salami-Ricotta Crostini as an appetizer. Since I was planning a big hearty dinner I decided to have dessert be simple and light. I bought a First Street Vanilla Pound Cake, banana pudding and bananas. One of my husbands favorite things to eat are bananas.

Baked Ziti with Spinach, Artichokes, Olives and Pesto

  • 1 pound La Romanelle dry pasta (Ziti or Penne Rigate)
  • One 26-ounce La Romanella  jar tomato pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 3/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 6 cups  loosely packed  spinach leaves
  • One 6.5 oz  jar artichokes, drained
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped black olives
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cooking Directions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use a 3-quart baking dish and lightly grease with butter. Bring a large pot of  water to a boil then add pasta and cook according to the package directions. Before draining, save about a 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the side for use in the recipe. Then, drain pasta.

While the pasta cooks, heat the tomato sauce and set aside. In a small bowl, stir the basil pesto and cottage cheese together, and then set aside. Add drained pasta to a large bowl then add spinach, drained artichokes,  olives, hot tomato sauce and about the 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Then, toss.

Add about half of the pasta and spinach mixture to the baking dish. Then, spread the cottage cheese and pesto on top. Scatter about half of the shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the pesto and cottage cheese mixture then add the rest of the pasta on top of that. Press everything down into the baking dish then scatter the rest of the mozzarella cheese on top.

Bake in the oven on 350 degrees for  about 30 minutes or until cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling. Let the baked ziti cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. 

Salami-Ricotta Crostini

1 Baguette cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 1/2 cups of La Romanella Ricotta Cheese 
15 slices of your favorite salami 

1/4 cup of Olive Oil to brush the bread with for cooking

Cooking Directions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees (if you are making the Baked Ziti the oven will be at the right temperature to bake them at the same time.) Brush the tops and bottoms of the sliced baguette and sprinkle the top side with salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet or baking pan for 15-20 minutes in the oven, turning the pan around in the oven half way through. 

Once cooled add the La Romanelle Ricotta Cheese on top of the Crostini slices, sprinkle top of the cheese with salt and pepper. Cut the slice of Salami in half and place both pieces on top of the cheese. Serve and enjoy! 

I added a few romantic touches with white candles, red place mats, a chocolate rose, box of Valentine's candy, sparkling cider in wine glasses, Valentine's Day decor and little pink marshmallow hearts. I pushed the dinner table into the corner of the dining room to give it a cozier feel. It is a simple set up that made a big difference in feeling like it was a romantic night in. 

My husband LOVED the dinner I made and the effort I put into to making the dining room romantic. He even said I should do that more often! He cooks way more than me and I am lucky for that. I will definitely be making more of an effort to create a romantic evening in our own home. We finished up dessert then snuggled up on the couch to watch the movie we rented. I am so happy I decided to redo the Valentine's Day from 10 years ago and have it turn out perfect!

You can find more recipes and information about Smart & Final by visiting them on their Facebook and Twitter pages. 

You can create your own Romantic Evening at Home with Romanella products from Smart & Final this Valentine's Day and also enter the 2013 La Romanella Sweepstakes. When you buy any 1 La Romanella product and enter your register reward online at to be entered to win a Weekend in Las Vegas or a $50 Smart Cash card! Dates of Promo 2 / 5 - 3/6

Grand Prize Details:


Purchase any La Romanella item and enter your register receipt information for a chance to win one of four (4) Grand Prize weekend trips for two to an Italian-inspired resort in Las Vegas!

The package includes:
-Roundtrip economy air transportation for two from gateway city nearest the winner’s home to Las Vegas
-Two nights accommodation for two at an Italian inspired resort
-Meals and other entertainment activities

Additional Prizes:
Win one of (10) $50 SmartCash Cards® Like cash, only smarter!

One Grand Prize will be awarded each week between February 6 and March 5, 2013. In addition, three
SmartCash Cards will be awarded each of the first two weeks; and two SmartCash Cards awarded each
of the last two weeks between February 6 and March 5, 2013. No purchase necessary. See rules for details.

Sweepstakes valid February 6-March 5, 2013.

*I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Smart & Final #CBias #ChooseSmart #SocialFabric All opinions expressed in this post are my own.



Nana said...

Everything looks just lovely!! I love that recipe for the baked ziti, it sounds delicious. So happy this Valentine's meal turned out wonderful :)

Theresa said...

I will have to try & make baked ziti sometime. Looks like you had a wonderful meal to share with your husband. Visiting from SF &

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