Romantic Movie–Themed Menus

By Lauren Salkeld,

Recipes and tips for capturing the magic of our favorite love-struck films.

Lady and the Tramp

Enjoy a candlelit spaghetti-and-meatballs feast inspired by Disney's beloved dog duo

Ingredients: A red and white checkered tablecloth, platters for sharing, and a playlist of Italian serenades, including "Bella Notte"

Preparation: Turn empty Chianti bottles into candlestick holders and arrange bread sticks in a vase to create a centerpiece and hors d'oeuvres in one.

Yield: A classic red-sauce-restaurant experience for you and your lady or tramp

The Menu: In the memorable spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp, the opposites-attract canine couple enjoy a candlelit dinner at an Italian restaurant. For obvious reasons, our menu features a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs, heavy on the meatballs, per Tramp's request. A salad of radicchio, frisée, and artichoke along with bread sticks and tiramisu make for a traditional Italian feast. The meal's romance comes from sharing food with the one you love-who can forget Lady and Tramp slurping up the same piece of pasta or Tramp nudging the last meatball over to Lady. For more person-appropriate sharing, serve each dish in two-person portions: The salad and meatballs can easily be piled high on large platters, while dessert can be baked in a smaller pan to feed a pair of hungry lovers.

Romance Tips: If weather permits, enjoy dinner alfresco or end the evening with a moonlight stroll in the park. On their walk, Lady and Tramp press their paws inside a heart drawn in wet cement, so when it comes to gifts, think about items that can be engraved with initials or expressions of love.

Spaghetti and MeatballsPhoto by Romulo YanesPhoto by Romulo Yanes

yield: Makes 12 to 16 servings
active time: 2 hr
total time: 3 hr


For tomato sauce:
• 6 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzano)
• 2 medium onions, chopped
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

For meatballs:
• 2 medium onions, finely chopped
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 3 cups torn day-old Italian bread
• 3 cups whole milk
• 6 large eggs
• 2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 pound)
• 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1/4 cup finely chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
• 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
• 1 1/2 pounds ground veal
• 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
• 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (not lean)
• 1 cup olive or vegetable oil

For pasta:
• 2 pounds dried spaghetti

Accompaniment: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Make sauce:
Drain tomatoes, reserving juice in a large bowl. Crush tomatoes with your hands and add to juice. Cook onions in oil in pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, 4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season with salt.

Make meatballs while sauce simmers:
Cook onions in extra-virgin olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Soak bread in milk in another bowl until soft, about 5 minutes. Firmly squeeze bread to remove excess milk, discarding milk.

Stir together cooled onion mixture, bread, eggs, parmesan, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, 51/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper until combined. Add meats to bread mixture, gently mixing with your hands until just combined (do not overmix).

Form meat mixture into about 70 (1 1/2-inch) balls with dampened hands, arranging meatballs on 2 large baking sheets or in shallow baking pans.

Heat olive or vegetable oil (1 cup) in a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown meatballs in 4 or 5 batches (without crowding), turning frequently, about 5 minutes per batch. Return to baking sheets.

Add meatballs to sauce and gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. (If pot is not large enough, divide meatballs and sauce between 2 pots.)

Prepare pasta:
Cook spaghetti in 2 batches in pasta insert in boiling salted water (3 tablespoon salt for 6 qt water) until just al dente, draining and tossing each batch with some of sauce in a large serving dish.

Serve with meatballs, remaining sauce, and grated cheese.

Cooks' notes:
• Meatballs can be made and simmered in sauce 5 days ahead and chilled (covered once cool).
• Meatballs with sauce can be frozen in an airtight container or heavy-duty sealable bags up to 3 months.

Salt and Pepper Grissini
Radicchio, Frisée, and Artichoke Salad

The Notebook
Take a canoe ride, and follow it with a candlelit crab boil for two in honor of this seaside romance.

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