This Valentine’s Day Date Night In post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StayInWithPasta #CollectiveBias

The Setup

Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday this year and, while many of us will celebrate the weekend prior or maybe even the following weekend, I want to share a fun weeknight-friendly way to celebrate for those of you who still want to do something special on the day of: Valentine’s Day Date Night In. This sweet little setup features a meal for two, complete with mood music.

Valentine's Day Date Night-In | Dash of Jazz

The star is my easy pasta bake(recipe below), which is made with Barilla® Rigatoni. I know, I know, you’ve probably noticed that I have shared this dish a couple of times before (see here and here). But that’s because it’s just that good! I thought it would be perfect for a date night in, especially for us busy gals with nine-to-fives. Just boil your pasta, mix up your sauce, and prep everything in a pan the day before. Then, when you get off work on V-Day, pop the pan in the oven to bake while you slip into an LBD, light candles, and pour the wine!

Valentine's Day Date Night-In | Dash of Jazz

I’ve added a side salad of fresh spinach, cucumber, and Parmesan to complement the main dish but it’s really up to you. This pasta bake has all the yumminess you could want packed inside: my meat sauce, fresh spinach, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, and, of course, pasta. I love how the shape of rigatoni holds up in this dish but have found you can also use Barilla Penne and it works well.

Valentine's Day Date Night-In | Dash of Jazz

Also, you’d get to use the cheesy sweet penne-themed meme I’ve included at the bottom of this post if you do! Barilla’s Mix and Match site has lots of different pasta shapes and suggestions to have fun with this Valentine’s Day or for any meal. And if you’re looking for a creative dessert to finish off the meal, check out the chocolate-covered strawberries I shared yesterday or this red velvet cake recipe that is still one of the most popular recipes on the blog after two years! Barilla is my go-to pasta for this dish and I typically run to Target to grab it…and a million other things. I mean, who is honestly able to get in and out of there without falling in love with a million different things?! When I picked up the pasta for this recipe, I also found a mirror for my living room, lampshades, and candy. #willpowernotonfleek

pan of baked pasta with meat sauce, cheese, and vegetables

The Recipe

Easy Pasta Bake
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins

An all-in-one pasta dish with a sweet and savory meat sauce, melted cheese, and fresh basil

Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baked rigatoni pasta, easy pasta dinner, one pan pasta dish, pasta bake dinner
Servings: 12 people
  • 1 pound Barilla rigatoni pasta cooked shy of al dente (about 6 minutes)
  • 4 cups meat sauce using recipe linked below or of your choosing
  • 3 leaves fresh basil
  • 20 leaves fresh spinach
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Alternate layers of pasta, sauce, cheese, and spinach in a baking dish.
  2. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

  3. Top with pieces of torn basil just before serving.

Valentine's Day Date Night-In | Dash of Jazz

Valentine's Day Date Night-In | Dash of Jazz

The Playlist

But back to date night-in: it’s not complete without music, right? I’m kind of a sucker for romantic music any day any time so I had a plethora of songs running through my mind. Sorry if the list is a little long but that just means it will definitely last you through getting dressed, setting up, eating with your honey, and even a couple of glasses of wine afterward! Here’s the link to my 2017 Valentine’s Day playlist and the track listing is below. These are some of my favorites but I’m always down to add more to my “collection” so let me know what your favorite love songs are in the comments section. I hope this inspires you to do a little something different on Valentine’s Day or your next date night at home. Thanks for reading!

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