This post was written in partnership with my friends at Catelli. All opinions, as always, are my own!
It quickly became clear to me—somewhere between kid #2 and kid #3—that eating out at restaurants, whether as a family or for a date night, was no longer an easy, simple option. It required planning, childcare, putting in extra effort to look presentable and then spending lots of money on perhaps a sub-par meal that I could have made better myself. And if we chose to take the kids? A whole lot of stress and chaos, which defeated the purpose all together.
Don’t get me wrong—my husband and I are all about getting out, without our kids. And we do. But sometimes it’s much easier, and just as enjoyable and special to put the kids to bed early, stay in and have an “at-home date night”. For us, half the fun is sipping wine while preparing dinner together. It’s our chance to reconnect during this crazy time in our lives.
My friends at Catelli value connection and reunion as much as I do (as well as easy, delicious and nutritious meals that bring families together), and have put together an amazing anniversary recipe collection to celebrate their 150th birthday this year, which happens to coincide with Canada’s 150th. They are celebrating all Canadian families—just like ours—and helping them connect in meaningful ways, over delicious food. In some ways, I see our “at-home date nights” as mini reunions for my husband and me.
Now that we have three young kids, it’s hard to carve out time for the two of us. And the more time that goes by, and the busier our lives become with work, kids’ activities, and just being “in the trenches”, we realize how essential it is to make us a priority. Marriage is not easy—in fact, it is hard work—especially when you have young kids.
Before we had kids, we went on an amazing month-long trip to Greece and Turkey, and the food was definitely the highlight for both of us. We have memories of funny Greek hole-in-the-wall restaurants with the most amazing tasting food, and cute old Greek ladies bringing us fresh, delicious Baklava for dessert. For our most recent at-home date night, we decided to relive some of those memories by making a Greek-inspired pasta bake that was quick and easy, and so tasty. And bonus: it provided great leftovers for the rest of the week—what parent doesn’t love that?!
The star ingredient was our favourite new pasta, Catelli’s new Ancient Grains Fusilli, which has five ancient grains—quinoa, amaranth, teff, sorghum and millet—and then added chicken, olives, fresh veggies, Mediterranean herbs and mozzarella and feta cheese. What I love about this this meal is that it’s just as delicious as it is nutritious and just as easy as it is gourmet. As a Dietitian, I love that this whole grain pasta is actually made with whole, ancient grains—full of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. I also love that it cooks up like regular pasta and that my kids love it too.
Here’s a glimpse into our date night and how to make the recipe:
One-Pot Greek Pasta Bake
Makes 6-8 servings
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. extra lean ground beef
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups diced fresh veggies of choice (we used red pepper, tomato and spinach)
- 1/3 cup sliced olives
- 1 (19-ounce) can tomato or marinara sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 12 ounces Catelli’s ancient grains fusilli pasta
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- Preheat oven to broil.
- Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until browned–about 3-5 minutes and then drain excess fat.
- Add diced veggies and garlic, sautéing until tender crisp; add olives and stir
- Stir in tomato or marinara sauce, oregano, basil, pasta and 2 cups water, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and top with cheeses. Place into oven and cook until melted and golden brown, about 2 minutes.
For now, once or twice a month, at-home dates provide an opportunity to connect, enjoy a nice meal uninterrupted and relax over a delicious meal. How do you connect with your spouse or partner?