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No, it doesn’t come to the weekend this year! It’s already a burden to decide what to do or what not to do on this day and being in a weekday doesn’t really help it. The good news is it’s a Wine Wednesday, (so glad it’s not on Taco Tuesday ) so we can save the day with a delicious but simple dinner (that you can prepare easily in a weekday) paired with a lovely wine. Here are my suggestions for this year.

1) Pan-seared duck breast with Creamy Spinach in the oven paired with Sangiovese

Although it sounds quite sophisticated this is actually very easy to make, would take you less than an hour to prepare. I’ve started with the creamy spinach: I’ve cut two garlic cloves and sautéed them on the pan with some olive oil, when they are almost browning add the spinach and sautéed them as well. They’ve actually lost a lot of their water and volume.

It’s a good idea to start cooking the duck after I put the creamy spinach in the oven.  For the pan-seared duck breast, the only thing I’ve done is cut the duck skin (fatty side) in crosshatch pattern, season with kosher salt and leave to the hot pan on the skin side down. I’ve kept watching it to turn them upside down when the fat starts to drizzle, than cook more (this depends how well cooked you prefer) not very long if you like it rare like me and they are done! I’ve served them side by side on the plate with a glass of Sangiovese from Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

2) Meatball and Spaghetti paired with Merlot

I’ve made the spaghetti from scratch and it took me in total 1.5 hours to cook this dish. If you make this with a packaged spaghetti it wouldn’t even take the half of this time. I always calculate the amount of flour for spaghetti as 1 egg for each person and 100 grams of flour for 1 egg. It works out perfectly for me every single time with this recipe. I have the simplest pasta machine and it works perfectly! I can make many different types of pasta with its different cutting options.

For the sauce of the pasta, I’ve cut one small onion and 2 garlic cloves in small pieces and sautéed them in the pan with some olive oil. After they are almost brown I’ve added a can of tomato sauce (in summer I prefer to prepare it from stratch as well). To reinforce the taste I’ve also added one fresh tomato in small dices, a spoon of tomato concentrate, and some red wine. When the sauce start to boil, I’ve added the raw meatballs in and cooked around 15 minutes.

Italians would mix the sauce and pasta before serving but due to some technical problems (using a very small sauce pan) I had to mix them on the plate. But if you want to stick with the tradition, you should mix them in the pan and then serve it. I’ve served it with some parmesan cheese and fresh parsley leaves. Since I’ve cook the meatballs inside of the tomato sauce they keep their juiciness inside and that’s why I suggest you to pair it with a medium bodied red wine.

3) Tagliatelle with scallops paired with Chardonnay

Again as the spaghetti, I’ve made the tagliatelle from scratch with the same recipe, only by changing the cutter. For the sauce, I’ve cut 2 garlic cloves and sautéed them in the pan with some olive oil, add the fresh scallops and sautéed them just a little bit until they form an almost brown crust outside and add some white wine and cream to finish up cooking. I’ve mixed the sauce in the pan with tagliatelle and served with parmesan and fresh parsley leaves.

A bottle of California Chardonnay can make a great pairing of this dish, oaked or unoaked depending on your taste.

4) Sushi paired with Champagne

Champagne can turn even the simplest dinners to a feast. So this is very simple, just order in some of your favorite sushi and pop a bottle up. I sometimes prepare the sushi at home, but to be honest not a very good idea for a weekday and better to spend your time on enjoying your bottle of Champagne. My favorite Champagnes to pair with are especially the NV ones, which make a very good company of sushi.

5) Eggplant bruschetta paired with Gamay

Ok, I have to be honest, this dish took me 10 days to prepare! Because I’ve made my own sourdough rye bread. But if you just buy it from a bakery you can save a lot of time. (Soon, I will write a detailed article about my home baking experiences.)

One big eggplant and one zucchini, I’ve sliced them very thinly with mandoline slicer. Some salt, black pepper, just a touch of dried garlic and some olive oil on top before they all go to oven at 375°F for 20 minutes. Meanwhile I’ve spread some pesto sauce on my sourdough rye bread slices and cut a mozzarella in slices as well. When the veggies were ready I’ve just placed them on the bread with some mozzarella slices in between. I highly suggest this one, you won’t regret it. I’ve paired this with a glass of Gamay from Beaujolais. Fruitiness and freshness of this wine with its light to medium body made a very good pairing of this vegetarian dish.

6) Ceviche Nikkei with Rosé

This might be the most difficult dish on the list but definitely worth it! You need salmon pieces, cleaned and ready to be cut in pieces. After I’ve cut the salmon into cubes, I’ve prepared the sauce. It has lemon, soy sauce, rice vinegar, fresh ginger and a touch of teriyaki sauce. I’ve also cut some red onions and mix everything in a bowl; the fish, the sauce and the onion. While these were waiting in the fridge to marinate, I’ve also cut some fresh onion and cilantro to go with the dish. If you’re not so hungry I suggest you to wait at least 1 hour in the fridge, at least… When they are ready, I’ve served it with some lettuce, half avocado and some corn. It looks as pretty as it tastes. Although I had concerns to pair it with a Provence rosé (I wasn’t sure about how it would handle all the acidity of the dish), it made a great tasting. This bottle is also probably the most suitable one to St. Valentine’s Day with its absolutely elegant and romantic bottle.

No matter what you eat & drink, I hope you all have a tasty and lovely St. Valentine’s Day!



All images © 2018 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.

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