Kind of feeling like a Date Night out at the favorite Italian restaurant all dressed up; but kind of also feeling like a comfy Night In on the couch wearing sweats. The Italian Date Night In Board does double duty and serves up all the favorites on a board or platter that you can set down on the table—dinner table or coffee table, depending on the vibe! This version of the Italian Date Night In Board stars Pomi Marinara Sauce, which is made from 100% fresh Italian tomatoes and is ready to heat and serve right out of the box.
Italian Date Night In Board recipe with Pomi Marinara Sauce two ways immediately below, cooking notes and resources follow.
ITALIAN DATE NIGHT IN BOARD
2 7-ounce boxes of Pomi Marinara Sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red peppers
½ cup Anchovy Lemon Vinaigrette [recipe]
½ cup Whipped Ricotta
½ cup Classic (-ish) Pesto
FOR THE BOARD:
4 ounces assorted salumi (this board has coppa and spicy soppressata)
¼ pound focaccia bread, sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 ounces ciliegine mozzarella
12 leaves fresh basil
2 heavy heads "Little Gem" lettuces, sliced lengthwise into 1-inch wide wedges
6 large parmesan frico
½ cup crumbled or shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ head roasted garlic
4 cups Pasta Chips
1 bunch broccolini, roasted
8 ricotta-stuffed fried squash blossoms
additional garnish: fresh basil, Italian flat leaf parsley, rosemary stalks, and shaved or shredded parmesan
optional: breaded mozzarella, Chicken Parm Tenders (see Notes below)
Heat both boxes of Pomi Marinara Sauce in a pot over medium heat until just beginning to boil. Turn down heat to low. Remove half the Marinara Sauce to a small serving bowl. Add crushed red pepper to remaining Marinara Sauce in pot, stir until distributed, then let simmer for about 10 minutes to allow flavor and heat to infuse the sauce. Spoon spicy Marinara Sauce to a second small serving bowl.
Place DIPS on board, then arrange remaining ingredients among the dips, keeping ingredients near their accompanying dips. Little Gem lettuces should be within dipping distance of the Lemon Anchovy Vinaigrette. Pasta Chips, squash blossoms, and meatballs should be close enough to the Marinara and spicy Marinara Sauces.
Garnish board with fresh herbs, shaved or shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano, and cracked black pepper.
Leftover Marinara Sauce can be stored in a tightly-sealed container in the refrigerator for two days.
RESOURCES and NOTES
Advance Cooking. All of the ingredients on the board, with the exception of the Squash Blossoms, can be made in advance, then re-heated (as necessary) right before serving. In fact, I highly recommend you make the Anchovy Lemon Vinaigrette, Whipped Ricotta, and Pesto the day before.
Marinara Sauce. Pomi Marinara Sauce is great for this recipe because the sauce is already made and ready to heat. The smaller 7-ounce boxes of Marinara Sauce are just a little more than enough for one bowl (so you will need two). Otherwise one 10-ounce box can work for the recipe and be split into the regular and spicy dips.
Salumi. I could write an entire blog post about all the different Italian salumi, but for the sake of this recipe, it's enough to say that you only need to pick two or three of your favorites. Prosciutto is a perennial favorite, and you could even wrap it around melon (if it's in season) or thin Italian breadsticks called grissini.
Focaccia Bread. You could add any bread in place of the focaccia. Old school Italian American garlic bread is a great choice if you have the energy to make it!
Little Gem Lettuces. Little Gems are a type of lettuce that looks like a baby Romaine head. If you can't find Little Gems, or even baby Romaine, use Romaine hearts and break them apart into individual leaves.
Dried Oregano. I use Sicilian dried oregano that comes dried whole on its stems, like this one.
Breaded Mozzarella. This is an option and can substitute for the Ricotta Filled Fried Squash Blossoms; they are both filled with cheese, fried, and hopefully served hot and melty. The only note I have here is that having more than a couple of cooked items (broccolini, meatballs...) means you have to pay slightly closer attention to timing to serve and keep things hot/warm, especially with respect to melted cheese.
Chicken Parm Tenders. Same note as above with respect to number of cooked ingredients.
Recipe created in partnership with Pomi Tomatoes. Thank you for supporting our partners! It lets us keep creating recipes for you!