Date night dining: Italian Sausage, Spinach & Tomato Rigatoni

Family Features -- Planning a delicious, romantic date night doesn't have to take you any further than your own kitchen. You don't have to be an accomplished chef to set the table for romance, but you can take inspiration from simple, quality Italian dishes to celebrate the link between food and love.

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With Valentine's Day just around the corner, this romantic meal can be ready in minutes or, like a great love story, simmered to perfection. To plan the ultimate date night at home, start by choosing a dreamy main dish made with mouthwatering sauces.

Everybody knows a flavorful sauce makes a great Italian meal, but the sauce doesn't need to be made from scratch (at least, not completely). For example, Bertolli d'Italia sauces are made in Italy for authentically delicious flavor. They are crafted with tomatoes vine-ripened under the Italian sun, finely aged Italian cheeses, fresh cream, and Mediterranean olive oil. The result is a sauce that's perfect for your date-night meal.

Once you select your main course, prepare a simple salad of greens with a drizzle of Italian vinaigrette or Caesar dressing. Pop a loaf of bakery-fresh Italian or focaccia bread into the oven to warm through and serve with butter or olive oil for dipping.

While the dinner candles are still lit, cap off the meal with a classic Italian dessert from your local bakery, like tiramisu from Rick's Bakery in downtown Urbana. You can serve cannoli or a creamy panna cotta from the supermarket bakery near you topped with fresh fruit.

Italian Sausage, Spinach & Tomato Rigatoni

Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 20 minutes

Here's what you'll need:

  • Water
  • 1/2 box rigatoni pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 16 ounces sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 jar Bertolli d'Italia Marinara Sauce
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • Directions:

    Bring large stockpot of water to boil. Boil rigatoni pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.

    In saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Saute until vegetables start to brown. Add Italian sausage and cook until done, breaking into small pieces. Add sauce and bring to low boil.

    Add baby spinach. Cook until spinach is mostly wilted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

    Add drained pasta to pan with sausage and sauce. Toss and divide between plates. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

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