The Lovers’ Lunch
Lunch dates can be magical. At their best, they mean spending the morning looking forward to seeing your special someone, and then savoring the memory all afternoon. With a well-chosen menu, you get to relish the delicious food in the same way. These recipes will certainly allow for that. Purposefully light yet undeniably satisfying, they celebrate love with the flavors of late summer while raising a toast to the arrival of fall.
The Bounty of the Harvest
Fall is such cozy season, bringing with it ample opportunities for enjoying warmer, heartier fare and the bounty of the harvest. It’s also one of the best seasons for cuddling (“Baby, it’s cold outside!”). There are few better ways to accomplish all of these goals than with a simple yet romantic lunch of soup and salad. While this classic pairing can be dressed up or down, the version featured here is a little on the dressy side and is well suited for would-be, new, or established couples alike. Rest assured that it’s not all innocence — it includes a few aphrodisiacs for good seductive measure.
Insalata Caprese offers one of the most tantalizing, sensuous, mouth-watering combinations around and yet it’s as effortless as fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil. All three of these ingredients are deceptively demure, but don’t be fooled. In reality, the feel of fresh mozzarella on the tongue is silky and sexy, tomatoes are called “love apples” in France, and we’ve already been through the libido-enhancing qualities of sweet basil. Add to this dynamic trio a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction and you may as well skip the next course and head for the bedroom. Ah, but wouldn’t that be a shame… (To have your soup and eat it too, consider switching the menu and serving the salad last.)
When temperatures begin to cool and there’s a chill in the air, soup is a natural go-to for lunch. This ultimate comfort food is as filling as it is healthy, and the Cauliflower Soup featured here is no exception. Studded with bacon and smoldering with a drizzle of white truffle oil, one bite will have you both begging for more.
Truffles are a variety of mushroom considered to be an aphrodisiac by the Greeks and Romans and regarded with no small measure of esteem in Italian, Greek, French, and Spanish culinary traditions. While the truffle oil is not an essential ingredient for this soup, it does impart an unmistakably sensual flavor and aroma. Find white truffle oil online, at specialty markets, and in some supermarkets.
Pour a chilled white wine, set out a plate of warm rustic bread, queue up your favorite music, and enjoy!
Insalata Caprese Salad
vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
fresh sweet basil leaves
balsamic vinegar or *balsamic vinegar reduction
salt and pepper, to taste
- Layer sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves on a platter. Repeat and “fan” out the layers like you would a deck of cards, either in a circle or a straight line depending on the dish.
- Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction over salad. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
*Balsamic Brown Sugar Reduction
1 cup balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
1. Cook the vinegar/brown sugar mixture down on med-high heat until it is reduced by half, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.
Recipe adapted from: savorysweetlife.com
Cauliflower Soup with White Truffle Oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 cups 1-inch pieces cauliflower (cut from 1 large head)
2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 3/4-inch cube Pecorino Romano cheese plus additional cheese shavings for serving
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
White or black truffle oil (for drizzling)
- Sauté bacon in heavy saucepan over medium heat until golden brown and some fat renders. Add onion, celery, and garlic. Cover and cook until the vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes. Add cauliflower, 2 cups broth, and cheese cube. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.
- Puree soup in batches in food processor or blender. Return to the same pan. Add cream and bring soup to a simmer. Dilute with ¼ cup (or more) broth if desired. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. (Note: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly; cover and chill. Re-warm before continuing.)
- Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with cheese shavings; drizzle with truffle oil.
Recipe adapted from: epicourious.com
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