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After the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the birthdays we’ve celebrated so far, the Mr. and I deserved a quiet dinner for two. When all of the kids were home for the holidays they repeatedly asked me to not go overboard, take a shortcut or two and relax. Yeah right! Whether it’s dinner for two or with all the kids and extended family I enjoy making a big deal out of dinner. I am also learning to take it easy. Taking it easy however, doesn’t mean shortchanging taste for convenience.
I made a trip to our neighborhood Kroger store and found this incredible deal and huge selection of Bertolli meals for two. Seeing as how I was in the mood for pasta I decided the Mr. and I were going to “Mangia” or eat the Italian way. After scooping up a Bag of Bertolli® Italian Sausage & Rigatoni my wheels starting turning on how to really explore the “Mangia” theme.
Here’s the menu; Bertolli® Italian Sausage & Rigatoni, Spinach and Cucumber Salad with Homemade Creamy Italian Dressing, Bread Sticks, Gelato with maybe a cookie and another small sweet treat plus Pinot Grigio. Oh yeah! To complete the ambiance, I designed an Italian inspired Tablescape. Dining Al Fresco would have been awesome but with the temps hovering at 32 degrees that wasn’t happening.
The Italian Sausage & Rigatoni entrée came together quickly. These meals are complete and there is nothing to add except any sides you’d like to accompany them. I added the contents of the bag which were the pasta, sauce, and sausage to a large skillet over high heat. They cooked for approximately 3 minutes until the sauce melted and another 15 minutes until everything was completely heated through.
For me an Italian meal isn’t complete without salad. I put together a Spinach and Cucumber Salad with a few sliced radishes and homemade Italian Salad Dressing. I must confess that I haven’t made many salad dressings but after this one that is about to change. Here’s the recipe:
Creamy Italian Salad Dressing
¾ cup of mayonnaise
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 TBS lemon juice
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 TBS water
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp white sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
In a small bowl whisk together all of the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill before serving. 4-5 minutes of prep and whisking and your’re done. How easy was that! Pour into a small decanter and use on your favorite salad.
I am so ingrained in setting the table for family and even though the intention was a table for two I set it as I usually do, oh well. For the Tablescape I started with an ivory muslin tablecloth. I used two-toned wine colored placemats and napkins. At each setting I placed a deep reddish dinner plate and wrapped it with a caramel colored napkin to brighten it. A multicolored bread and butter plate sat on top.
The salad was served in a bowl the same color as the dinner plates and the wine in a stemmed goblet. In the center of the table I used a cake stand with the same pattern as the bread and butter plates to hold faux fruit. At dinnertime the fruit was removed and the bread sticks were added. On each side of the cake stand I placed painted wine bottles, and wooden candlesticks with burgundy tapers.
Earlier in the week I received a belated Christmas gift from Gabbi and it was just right for this table. This gift was even more special because she made it in her woodshop class and knew I would be able to use it on my tables. The rustic cutlery and her thoughtful gift were just perfect.
Our dinner for two was absolutely perfect. We enjoyed the meal and the quiet time. Now about that quiet time….
Guess who showed up just in time for dessert! As I’ve said before, anytime spent with family around the dinner table is always time well spent.
When you decide to “Mangia” you can find Bertolli items at some of the lowest prices of the year in a Kroger or Kroger banner store near you. If you’re not familiar with Kroger banners they include Fred Meyer, Smiths, Frys, Dillions, King Soopers, City Market, and QFC”. Here is a handy store locator to help you find your nearest location. Once you locate your store check out the Bertolli product page for more mealtime ideas.