Valentine's Day is right around the corner.
"If ever there was a day to date in, Valentine's Day is it," Rodriguez told BuzzFeed Life. "No need to fight for a reservation. No pressure to leave your table before you're ready to go."
So to help you plan your own romantic evening at home, Rodriguez came up with this delicious three-course dinner that you and your date can cook and enjoy together.
You can find full recipes for everything at the bottom of this post.
First up? The drink: An easy Aperol Spritz.
Then, the starter: A fresh kale salad with apples, currants, and Parmesan.
All topped with a savory pancetta vinaigrette.
That, FYI, you'll want to put on just about everything.
Next, the main course: Cacio e Pepe pasta.
The pasta is super simple — just noodles, butter, cracked pepper, and lots of freshly grated pecorino cheese.
Proving that you don't need a laundry list of ingredients to make an incredibly flavorful meal.
Finally, the dessert: A creamy Nutella semifreddo.
Which, if you've never made a semifreddo before, is easier than you think.
You're basically just mixing eggs, sugar, Nutella, and heavy whipping cream — and then freezing it overnight.
AKA: Homemade ice cream without the fuss of an ice cream maker.
You can find full recipes for everything below. For even more dinner date inspiration, head over to Not Without Salt, or check out Ashley's new book, Date Night In.
1. Aperol Spritz
1⁄2 cup Aperol
3⁄4 cup Prosecco
1⁄4 cup gin
Splash of soda water
2 orange slices
Fill two large white wine glasses with ice. Add to each glass half of the Aperol, the Prosecco, and the gin. Give a gentle stir and then finish each drink with a splash of soda water and an orange slice.
2. Kale Salad with Apples, Currants, and Warm Pancetta Vinaigrette
4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes
1 small bunch Lacinato kale
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small shallot, finely minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1⁄2 apple, unpeeled and diced (I like something tart and crisp, like Pink Lady or Granny Smith)
1⁄4 cup dried currants
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Shaved Parmesan to garnish
Add the pancetta to a large sauté pan set over medium-low heat. Cook until brown and most of the fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. While the pancetta cooks, wash the kale, remove the tough inner ribs, and cut into 1-inch ribbons.
Once the pancetta is brown, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the shallots and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until the shallots are golden around the edges and cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, mustard, and red wine vinegar.
Pour the warm vinaigrette over the kale. Add the apples, currants, and lemon juice. Toss to combine. Use a vegetable peeler to shave large, thin wisps of Parmesan over the salad to finish.
3. Cacio e Pepe
8 ounces uncooked bucatini or spaghetti
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for finishing
1 cup finely grated pecorino, divided
2 Parmesan Frico (recipe follows), for serving
Heat a large salted stockpot until it boils. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter with 1 teaspoon pepper in a large sauté pan set over medium-low heat. Let the pepper infuse for 1 minute and then turn off the heat.
When the pasta is al dente, before draining, remove a 1⁄2 cup of pasta water and add to the butter. Simmer for 2 minutes over low heat.
Drain the pasta and add to the sauté pan, along with 3⁄4 cup pecorino. Toss the pasta in the sauce with tongs until the cheese has melted and created a creamy sauce that coats the pasta. If the sauce is still wet, continue to simmer until the water has reduced and clings to the pasta. Divide into bowls, and finish with the remaining pecorino and more freshly ground black pepper
*Pro Tip: Place a Parmesan frico (aka: fancy ~cheese cracker~) at the bottom of each bowl.
1 1⁄3 cups freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using 2⁄3 cup Parmesan, form a thick, even 6-inch circle of cheese on the parchment. Then bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cheese melts and is golden.
Carefully remove the parchment from the tray and flip over onto an inverted bowl. Peel off the parchment and gently press the Parmesan circle around the inverted bowl. Cool for 30 seconds and then remove. Repeat with the remaining cheese.
*Frico can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container.
4. Nutella Semifreddo
4 large eggs
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
3⁄4 cup Nutella
1 cup heavy whipping cream, plus more for serving
Optional toppings: Chopped toasted hazelnuts, whipped cream
Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang on all sides to use to remove the semifreddo later.
In a large bowl, add the eggs and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy, about 2 minutes. While the eggs whip, slowly add the sugar and then beat on high speed until the eggs are light and tripled in volume, 5 to 7 minutes.
Decrease the mixer speed to low and then add the Nutella to the bowl. Mix for 15 seconds. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Finish whisking the Nutella and eggs together by hand. The eggs will lose a lot of volume once the Nutella is added. This is fine, I assure you.
In a separate bowl and with clean beaters, whip the cream to medium peaks. Whisk together the egg and Nutella mixture with the cream.
Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and freeze for 8 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, lift the semifreddo out of the pan using the plastic wrap and slice into thick slices.
Serve with toasted hazelnuts and whipped cream.