(Lovingly submitted to the Al Dente Canoodler from Bad Fairy and Wonder Woman…Bona Sera Supper Club)
Hello all pasta lovers
Monique asked us to come up with a stress-free, three course Valentine’s Day menu for 2, and here it is! The apple celery salad is the perfect light first course, citric and refreshing, to wake up your palate.
The pasta dish is silky, rich and lusciously creamy. You can use any flavor of Al Dente fettuccine…it’s delicious with the Whole Wheat and Flax, but would be stunning on the Land & Sea or Squid Ink. Really it would be great on any of the flavors.
We wanted to include a quick and easy dessert that’s also romantic, beautiful and very sensual, and that didn’t happen to involve chocolate (not that we don’t like chocolate, so don’t spread that around). Saffron poached pears are classic and very easy to prepare ahead of time.
Apple Celery Salad
1 granny smith apple
3 stalks of celery and one stalk with center leafy greens
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of arugula or other leafy greens
¼ cup shavings of pecorino Romano or parmesan
Cut apples (unpeeled) into bite size pieces or small wedges. Slice celery stalks diagonally into bite size pieces. Place apples and celery in a bowl, zest lemon into the bowl and squeeze the juice of ½ lemon onto the celery and apples. Add olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss arugula in a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place arugula on a platter and top with celery/apple mix. Shave cheese onto the salad and enjoy!
Pasta with Salmon, Boursin and Mushrooms
½ package of Al Dente Fettuccine (we used the Whole Wheat Blend with Flax Roasted Garlic)
6 ounce Salmon Fillet
½ wheel of Boursin Cheese
2 tablespoons of cream
2 cups of mushrooms, any kind (we used Oyster and Enoki)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
½ cup of pasta water
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Sauté mushrooms in an oven-proof pan with 1.5 T. of olive oil until they have a luscious caramel color, season with salt and pepper, remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan add remaining 1.5 T. of oil and heat on high until just smoking. Put salmon in flesh side down being careful to tilt the pan away from you…oil spatters on Valentine’s Day have got to be good for nobody… Sear for 2-3 minutes until the salmon has a nice brown crust. Flip salmon over skin side down and place in oven to finish (approximately 5-7 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon). When done, remove from pan, gently separate skin (discard, unless you’re freaky like that, in which case, enjoy!) and set the fish aside to rest.
Next, bring salted water to a boil. In the same salmon sauté pan, crumble and add boursin and 2 tablespoons of cream. Melt together and then set the pan aside.
Ready for the Pasta! Cook Al Dente Fettuccine of your choice in salted boiling water for 3 minutes. When pasta is almost cooked, take a ladle of the pasta water and add it to the boursin sauce and mix well. Gently heat sauce, drain pasta and toss sauce, mushrooms and pasta together. Arrange fish on top of pasta and enjoy.
Saffron Poached Pear with Mascarpone Crème
1 Bosc Pear—medium ripe but not soft
½ tablespoon of saffron threads or powder
2 cups of white wine
½ cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 tablespoons of honey
¼ cup of mascarpone
Optional almond cookie
Peel the pear then carefully cut in half. Core the pear halves using a melon baller so you have a circle in the middle of each half (Note: you can core before or after poaching. Pears will be easier to core after cooking, but you might scorch your fingers, and scorched fingers on Valentine’s Day are good for nobody…). Poach pears in wine and saffron over medium heat in a saute pan or pot whose sides are high enough to accommodate the pears and liquid.
Wine should cover the pears, but if you’ve been nipping at the wine (you know, because it’s a holiday) and don’t have enough to cover them, flip the pears midway to make sure that they will cook evenly. If you have enough wine to cover the pears and then some, pour what remains into a glass and sip carefully (you know, because it’s a holiday).
Poach until pears can be pierced easily with a knife about 15-25 minutes. Remove pears and remaining poaching liquid, which will be a beautiful saffron yellow color. Place pears in the refrigerator to cool.
Mascarpone Crème: whip cream until it begins to get peaks, add honey and vanilla and whip until the cream is stiff, then add mascarpone and whip to incorporate.
To serve, add a ladle of the reserved poaching liquid to a shallow bowl and place pear cored side up over the sauce. Add a dollop of cream to the cored center of the pear. Garnish with a sprinkling of saffron powder and an almond cookie.
Mascarpone Crème and Poached Pears can be made 1 day ahead. Assemble before serving, and leave the dishes until morning…