Valentine’s Day is a loaded holiday and phrase. We all know the script — women are supposed to go gaga over plush teddy bears and generic Hallmark cards while guys groan at cheesy commercials and the gushy gifts their girlfriends give them. Those in relationships will spend fortunes on dinners out at stuffy restaurants while their single friends, presumably with nothing better to do, are encouraged to drown their sorrows in romantic comedies and pints of Haagen Dazs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing decadence. As a self-proclaimed gourmand, I have to admit that I love whipping up dark chocolate confections and I spend way too much money on groceries and restaurant meals. But these obsessive gendered behaviors are so stereotyped that they’ve been amplified into two impossible extremes. Really, who wants to spend their weekend writing love poems or watching the latest Katherine Heigl movie? It almost sounds like some sort of hellish competitive challenge, where people would be forced to stomach one or the other until they gave up or puked.

Clearly, I don’t think either option sounds realistic, healthy or fun, so this year I’m opting out and suggesting you do the same. Instead of stressing over the date you do or don’t have, consider putting your time, energy and money towards a genuine celebration of the people you love, whether they’re your best friends, your family or your love interest.

Of course, if you’d prefer to drink “love potion” cocktails while eating “his and hers” steaks and then — heart-shaped! — chocolate cheesecake, feel free to fight for a restaurant reservation, and if you honestly hate your life simply because you’re single, I’m not going to stop you from eating raw cookie dough and watching “27 Dresses. Consider, though, that unlike those two options, making this recipe (adapted from Giada de Laurentiis) won’t cost you a fortune, gross you out or make you feel bad about yourself.

Note to my roommate, who I know is terrified that this column means I’m canceling our annual anti-V Day festivities: Yes, we can still eat chocolate and watch movies this weekend. But let’s bake the batter, pick an indie flick and forego “girl talk” or gossip in favor of a more constructive conversation.

Ingredients

1/2 cup pasta

1 slice bread, butter and garlic OR 1/4 cup garlic flavored croutons

a handful of slivered almonds

2 roasted red peppers

a T or two of extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Salt your water and set it to boil.
  2. If you’re using bread instead of store-bought croutons, spread each slice with butter and garlic, place them on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350 degrees until they’re crisp.
  3. Once the water’s boiling, add the pasta to the pot.
  4. Dice the red peppers on a cutting board and set them aside.
  5. Toast your almonds on the stove or in the oven. Be careful they burn fast!
  6. Once the pasta’s cooked, drain it and coat it with olive oil.
  7. Smash the bread slices or croutons until you have garlicky breadcrumbs. You can do this in a food processor, or put the pieces in a sealed Ziploc bag and smash it with your hands.
  8. Add the breadcrumbs, red pepper  and toasted almonds to the pasta.
  9. Mix well and serve!

Kitt Wolfenden is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. She can be reached at [email protected] Kitt’s Kitchen appears every other Friday in the guide.

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