October 12, 2020
Let’s face it, staying in has been the new going out for quite some time now. And, with the nights drawing in, staying in the comfort of your own home is more and more appealing. No need to book in advance, no waiting in the rain for a taxi or night bus, and if passion (or tiredness) gets the better of you, it’s only a few steps to the bedroom.
How To Plan The Ultimate Date Night At Home
The ultimate date night is more than just Netflix and chill, though. It’s all about the ambience, sharing great food, a bit to drink, and making each other happy.Set the sceneWith the long evenings of summer behind us, we could do worse than take a leaf out of the Scandinavians’ book and embrace hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-gah’). It’s how the Nordic countries embrace their infamously dismal winters. Hygge is cosy contentment: snuggling up in front of a crackling log fire; reading by candlelight; indulgent food; sipping liqueurs under a blanket. Light the fire if you have one, turn the lights low and illuminate the room with candles or twinkly LED lights and scatter plenty of blankets around.Choose your themeAn Italian theme is belissimo for a date night. Get into the vibe by cooking together to an energetic Italian Techno playlist, then dial the atmosphere down for dinner with the late Ennio Morricone’s film music – we love the soundtracks from Cinema Paradiso and The Mission. If you want to add extra cheese, The Perfect Italian Dinner on Spotify has all the classic singalongs like Volare and That’s Amore.Food and drinkCocktails are a treat, and we’ve missed our quota of Mojitos and Porn Star Martinis. Indulge yourselves with a pre-dinner cocktail-making session, and unless you have all the kit, spirits, mixers and know what you’re doing, keep it simple. We like a Gimlet, which is little more than lime, syrup and gin, but oh-so-refreshing; and the metaphor for our times, a Dark ’N Stormy – dark rum and ginger beer with a twist of lime.
Now for the food. Keep the menu fairly light – meat-free is ideal. And with the right meat alternatives and a little imagination, meat-free doesn’t have to be taste-free. Naked Glory’s mission is to bring you “The Meatiest Thing Since Meat.” Put succulent Naked Glory No-Meat Balls on your online shopping list or nip into the chilled plant-based aisle at Sainsbury’s.   Sharing the dinner prep is romantic in itself. To start, lay out an antipasti board of olives, Italian cheeses, marinated artichokes, sunblush tomatoes, melon and ciabatta. For the main course, it has to be pasta. Our epic Naked Glory Baked No-Meat Balls (recipe below) is light enough for a date night, while packing in the flavours of southern Italy. There’s really only one wine to drink with this – a nice Chianti. Room for dessert? Forget creamy tiramisu and instead go for elegant fresh or marinated figs with a scoop of finest Italian ice cream. Just gorgeous.Fun and games
There’s nothing sexier than having a laugh together, so get out a risqué after-dinner board game or truth or dare cards over coffee. If you’re really too full to move and need to chill, retire to the sofa under those blankets. Take turns to search up and share your favourite comedy sketches and music on YouTube, visiting vintage favourites and leaving your comfort zone with new ones. Your sofa is as good as front row seats at a comedian’s uncensored stand up or artist’s festival set  - without the crowds, queues or prices.Here’s that recipe:Naked Glory Baked No-Meat BallsServes 2Ingredients1 tbsp olive oil1 onion, chopped2 garlic clove, crushed/chopped2 bay leaves8 Naked Glory No-Meat Balls1 tbsp tomato puree1 tbsp red wine vinegar1 tsp granulated sugar1 red pepper, diced200g passata2 tbsp sundried tomato pastePinch of dried oreganoSalt and pepper1 handful grated mozzarella or your choice of vegan cheese
To serveFresh basil, choppedDrizzle of olive oilYour choice of pasta
MethodHeat the olive Oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan with a lid and fry the onion and garlic until softened.Add the Naked Glory No-Meat Balls, turning now and again till they started to brown. Then add your tomato paste and cook off for a minute.Add the bay leaves, passata, red pepper, sundried tomato paste, oregano, sugar and red wine vinegar to the frying pan, and bring to a simmer.Bubble for 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened, and the surface is glistening.Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.Pour the Naked Glory No-Meat Balls and tomato sauce into a big baking dish and scatter with mozzarella or vegan cheese.Heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4 and bake uncovered for 15 minutes until the Naked Glory No-Meat Balls are piping hot and cooked through, and the cheesy top is bubbling. This is the perfect time to boil a pan of salted water and cook your pasta.Let the dish cool for 5 minutes, then add a drizzle of olive oil and a scatter of fresh basil, serve with freshly cooked pasta of your choice.
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