Valentine’s Day is this Friday… are you taking someone special out for the evening or staying in? If you’re staying in, get the jump on your menu shopping today. Surprise your loved one(s) with some of these delicious, simple and quick cooking recipes that we have been eyeing since early January. We’ve selected recipes to create a complete meal, from appetizer to dessert, with two entrées – prepare either or both.
For a special touch, create a menu card (something like this) and place on the table, charger plates or placemats.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
We admit. We already tested this recipe. A few times. This Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto recipe from Giada De Laurentiis is savory and salty, wrapped in delicious bite. It’s also a fun dish for picky eaters to taste asparagus for the first time.
Tip: wrap the prosciutto while the asparagus is hot, so it has a chance to soften and “melt”; serve promptly while the dish remains warm.
Shrimp Fra Diavolo (Italian for “Brother Devil”) is a simple, spicy and easily adaptable dish. Shrimp is tossed with garlic and red chili flakes and usually tossed with pasta. (Skip the pasta if you’d like a 2nd course, below.) We like this recipe from the “What She’s Having” blog as well as this version from Recipe Addict.
We have made this Angel Hair Pasta with Fried Chili Flakes, Lemon and Arugula (courtesy of Tyler Florence) dozens of times, usually in the spring. The lemon is refreshing in our spicy Valentine’s Day entrées, making it a nice complement to course 1.
By experimenting with this recipe, we discovered the following ratios provide the level of spice we like: cut in half the pasta, Panko bread crumb and arugula amounts. The chili flake, oil, garlic, etc. remain as written in the recipe. (Plus, it’s a more appropriate serving size.) If you don’t care for arugula, try baby spinach!
Apple and Endive are a classic french combination, often tossed with blue cheese crumbles, spiced walnuts and apple vinaigrette for a tasty, crunchy salad. One of our bloggers (ok, it’s me) recently returned from a family vacation at Walt Disney World. This Apple and Endive Salad was one of our favorite dishes at a property restaurant called Tusker House; the chef put his creative touch on this dish by adding dried cranberries. Gruyere cheese would be a nice addition, if you’re looking for extra protein.
Valentine’s Day is synonymous with chocolate and Ghirardelli® has been producing chocolates in San Francisco since 1852. This Dark Chocolate Truffle recipe, using Ghirardelli chocolate, is simple and can be prepared days in advance of Valentine’s Day. Be creative in selecting nuts and treats to roll each truffle in… don’t forget your guests’ favorites. We like crushed almonds or sea salt (lightly!) and puffed rice cereal for the kids!
Wine and beer are natural aphrodisiacs, so feel free to indulge a bit. If that’s not an option for your table, brighten up a wine decanter or pitcher with sparkling water and sliced lemons, oranges and limes.
A professional sommelier can perfectly match wine(s) to these dishes for the meal; for the home cook, go with what you know. Whether you and your dining companions enjoy a pleasing Pinot Noir from Oregon or a sweet Riesling from Germany, remember to allow time for your wine to breathe.
If you’d like to try something new, Pinot Meunier is growing in popularity. “Until recently, producers in Champagne generally did not acknowledge Pinot Meunier, preferring to emphasize the use of the other noble varieties, but now Pinot Meunier is gaining recognition for the body and richness it contributes to Champagne. Pinot Meunier is approximately one-third of all the grapes planted in Champagne.” (Wikipedia)
Keep it simple: buy from a local brewer. Find your local microbreweries or brewpubs from this searchable list by the Brewers Association.
Whether you’re cooking a romantic dinner for two or celebrating the day with your family and loved ones, these dishes are highly adaptable, such as adjusting the spiciness of the entrées, and have quick cooking times. We think an ideal Valentine’s Day for the home cook is preparing delicious food for those you love, without spending all night in the kitchen.
Enjoy these recipes (or your own favorite) for a delicious Valentine’s Day dinner at home. “Play with Your Food!TM“