Adam Liaw’s simple summer Valentine’s Day menu

Adam Liaw’s simple summer Valentine’s Day menu

If you’re trying to impress someone this Valentine’s Day, there’s no point pulling out all the stops for a big, impressive dinner. Don’t get me wrong, putting a lot of effort into making a delicious meal is a charming way to show your affection, but a dinner doesn’t has to reach for Michelin heights. Nothing is going to be less impressive for your date than sitting alone at a table while you plate micro-herbs with tweezers. Except, maybe, being in the kitchen trying in vain to talk to you while getting only half your frazzled attention.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’d be much more impressed with a simple menu that leaves the cook free to spend time with me.

And even better than that, a simple meal shows someone that you know how to make good food and be yourself – not just that you know how to spend a whole day trying to be a Heston, Marco or Nigella.

Simple food allows you to be yourself, and on Valentine’s Day there’s no one else you should be trying to be.

Summer tomato and caper pasta

Summer tomatoes are a joy. A simple aglio e olio (garlic and oil) sauce helps bring out their best flavour, and a lick of al dente pasta makes for a perfect summer meal. For best results, eat it outside while watching the sun go down.

INGREDIENTS

400g dried spaghetti

⅔ cup olive oil

1 small red onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 tbsp baby capers

350g mixed grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered

¼ cup white wine

½ cup basil leaves, torn

¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, torn

METHOD

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti until al dente.

While the spaghetti is cooking, heat another large saucepan over medium heat, add half the olive oil, the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant and starting to brown. Add the capers and fry for about a minute, then add the tomatoes, white wine and remaining oil.

When the spaghetti is al dente, drain well and add to the tomato mixture. Scatter over the herbs. Stir to coat in the oil and tomato mixture, adjust seasoning and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Adam’s tip: The enzymes that give tomatoes their delicious flavour are inactive at low temperatures, so a tomato straight from the fridge will not taste its best. Keep tomatoes at room temperature for best flavour.

Summer berry and rose jellies.

Photo: William Meppem

Summer berry and rosé jellies

Nothing says summer like rosé. Match it with some seasonal berries in an easy dessert that you just have to pull out of the fridge, and you won’t be leaving your partner drumming their fingers on the table waiting.

INGREDIENTS 

9 gelatine leaves, soaked in iced water until softened

400g sugar

500ml dry rosé

juice of 1 lemon, strained of pulp

150g raspberries

150g strawberries, halved

150g blueberries

METHOD

Combine the sugar, rosé, lemon juice and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Squeeze any excess liquid from the gelatine leaves and add to the saucepan, stirring for a few minutes until the gelatine is completely dissolved.

Place the berries into 6 small jelly moulds or a 1.5 litre jelly mould and pour over the rosé mixture. If using flexible moulds, such as Silpat, make sure they’re first placed on baking trays that can fit into your fridge. Refrigerate until completely set, about 2 hours, turn out the jellies and serve.

Makes about 1.2 litres

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