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
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.
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!
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.
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 my most popular 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 If you’re at all like me and sometimes get a little lost in Target, here’s a cartwheel offer for Barilla to soften the blow. 🙂
- 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
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Alternate layers of pasta, sauce, cheese, and spinach in a baking dish.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
Top with pieces of torn basil just before serving.
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.
- For Lovers Only – Maxwell
- Nothing Even Matters – Lauryn Hill
- You and I – Lady Gaga
- We Belong Together – Mariah Carey
- Say Somethin’ – Mariah Carey feat. Snoop Dogg & Pharrell
- Hey Lover – LL Cool J feat. Boyz II Men
- Four Seasons of Loneliness – Boyz II Men
- Love on Top – Beyonce
- Mine – Beyonce feat. Drake
- Teenage Dream – Katy Perry
- They Don’t Know – Jon B.
- Weak – SWV
- Teenage Love Affair – Alicia Keys
- Always Be My Baby – Mariah Carey
- Bold as Love – John Mayer
- I Have Nothing – Whitney Houston
- Sweet Thing – Rufus feat. Chaka Khan
- Fortunate – Maxwell
- Happy – Ashanti
- Drunk in Love – Beyonce & Jay-Z
- Love, Need, and Want You – Patti LaBelle
- Forever My Lady – Jodeci
- All My Life – K-Ci & JoJo
- Angel of Mine – Monica
- Tell Me It’s Real K-Ci & JoJo
- Can You Stand the Rain – Boyz II Men
- All the That Man I Need – Whitney Houston
- Love Never Felt So Good – Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake
- No Sleeep – Janet Jackson feat. J. Cole
- Make You Feel My Love – Adele
- You’re Still the One – Shania Twain
- When a Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge
- The Way You Make Me Feel – Michael Jackson
- My Girl – The Temptations
- I Know What You Want – Busta Rhymes, Mariah Carey & Flipmode Squad
- Adorn – Miguel
- Dance for You – Beyonce
- No Ordinary Love – Sade
- Dream a Little Dream of Me – Etta Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
- Straight Up & Down – Bruno Mars
- I’ll Make Love to You – Boyz II Men
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!