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quick, impressive, non-prefab meal

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I am cooking dinner for my new sweetie and I after a few rounds of tennis tonight. I want to make something tasty that isn't prefab-ed. He has virtually no cooking "stuff" at his apartment, like spices, olive oil, etc so I'll have to buy it all. We will also be starving, since we'll have just run around for a few hours, so something under 30 minutes would be nice.

I'm thinking of doing the babbo bucatini all'amatriciana,
http://www.babbonyc.com/rec-bucatini....
but I'm a bit afraid of burning the pancetta (I don't cook bacon. ever.).

any other ideas? the sweetie in question is fairly well-traveled, but has show no signs of extreme culinary adventure. I have a TJ's, a Whole foods and a normal supermarche at my disposal.

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  1. I've made my boyfriend some pretty labor intensive meals, especially when we first started dating, and have to report that I think his favorite has been a simple roast chicken from Thomas Keller's recipe -- the easiest meal I've ever made him:

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

    With some nice bread like baguette (maybe made into garlic bread) and salad with homemade or good store-bought dressing and perhaps a few nice additions like nuts, or goat cheese crumbles, or something -- I think you'd have a way-impressive meal with minimal -- and mean MINIMAL -- work. Prepping that chicken takes all of 5 minutes. Make sure you get a very small chicken, put it in the oven when you get back to his apartment, maybe take showers and prep the other things for a couple of minutes, and then feast. I myself would love the babbo recipe you list above and I've tried similar things on my well-traveled, food-experienced boyfriend, but he just really likes this roast chicken, which is amazing actually!, and fresh, simple additions. So I surrender. Last night I roasted a chicken (a 2.85 pounder that took 40 minutes) and meanwhile made very simple risotto and prepped for salad with bottled vinaigrette and he was very happy. He was too full to eat dessert; actually we both were. Good luck.

    1. Something really hearty and delish and only takes minimal effort would be a nice pork tenderloin (roasts very quickly):
      2 large cloves garlic
      1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
      1 teaspoon dried sage
      1/4 teaspoon pepper
      1 tablespoon olive oil
      2 trimmed pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each), at room temperature

      Position a rack near the bottom of the oven and preheat to 500°. Mince together the garlic, salt, sage and pepper. In a small bowl, combine with the oil. Rub all over the meat and place the tenderloins side by side but not touching in the smallest roasting pan that will hold them. Roast for 10 minutes. Flip over and roast again until the internal temperature registers 155° on an instant-read thermometer, about 8 minutes more. Let rest for about 10 minutes (the internal temperature should reach 160°). Slice into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Make a nice easy sauce to put over this with balsamic vinegar and your favorite jam, heated in sauce pan. Or orange juice and marmelade.

      Roast some red potatoes, vegies too with a little olive oil, salt and pepper (broccoli is my favorite roasted).

      Simple salad and your all set! Have fun.