Date Night: Fabio's Romantic Italian Meal

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Save some money and bring the romance home with this easy to make, decadent meal! Utilizing a basic double-boiler method, Chef Fabio shares two indulgent recipes that combine to create a perfect romantic dinner for two: his pillowy gnocchi with three cheeses and Italian sausage, and handmade chocolate-covered strawberries!

Culinary tips:
--A double-boiler or bain-Marie is the perfect tool for easy melting of delicate ingredients like cheese or chocolate. The indirect heat keeps things moving at a slow pace, and helps you avoid overheating or scorching the bottom of the pan. Don't have a double-boiler? Just use a saucepan with a heat-safe bowl that fits over the top of the pan, but is too big to touch the bottom of it.
--Dressing up familiar recipes, such as Fabio's Gnocchi, in new sauces is an easy way to expand your repertoire without too much difficulty. No time to make gnocchi? This sauce is also perfect for almost any kind of pasta!
--Reduced-fat cheeses melt differently than regular ones, and can make it more difficult to get a smooth texture, so choose wisely.
--Shredding or crumbling the cheese before melting it will help you achieve a perfectly smooth sauce in minutes.
--Because this sauce comes together so quickly, be sure to completely cook and crumble the sausage before melting the cheese.
--When working with chocolate, it is essential to prepare your kitchen for what's to come: line the cookie sheets with parchment paper before you start, and make sure you have room in your refrigerator for the trays to lie flat.
--Bring your strawberries to room temperature for best results. Make sure the berries are perfectly dry before dipping, to avoid watery white streaks.
--Use the best chocolate you can find and afford: avoid chocolate "flavored" products and go for the real thing!

Fabio's Gnocchi with Three Cheeses and Chocolate-Covered Strawberries


Recipe by Fabio Viviani
Yield: 4 servings

1 batch Fabio's Gnocchi dough
1 cup shredded white Cheddar
1 cup shredded Fontina
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup Gorgonzola crumbles
1/2 lb. crumbled Italian sausage, fully cooked
fresh parsley, chopped

Make and cut the gnocchi as directed.
Prepare your double-boiler by bringing a saucepan of water to a simmer.
Meanwhile, in a heat-safe bowl that will fit into the pan without touching the bottom, combine the cheeses and cream.
Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk until it becomes a smooth, uniform sauce, free of lumps.
Cook the gnocchi in salted boiling water: remember, when the first one floats, they're ready!
Meanwhile, warm the Italian sausage in a deep sauté pan. Add the sauce to the pan, then the cooked gnocchi, and toss.
To serve, spoon into shallow bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.
To reheat any leftover sauce, use the double-boiler method, whisking until smooth and heated.


Recipe by Fabio Viviani
Yield: 12 strawberries

1/2 lb. of premium coating chocolate
12 large, long-stem strawberries, washed, dried, and brought to room temperature

Prepare your double-boiler by bringing a saucepan of water to a simmer.
Place the chocolate inside a heat-safe bowl that will fit into the pan without touching the bottom.
Melt the chocolate by placing the bowl over the simmering water, stirring often.
Once the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, remove from heat.
Dip the strawberries into the chocolate, then place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Chill berries in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes, until the chocolate is completely hardened.
Serve and store at room temperature.
To reheat extra chocolate, use the double-boiler method, whisking until smooth and melted.


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Panna Cotta