So you’ve dropped the ball on Valentine’s Day. You can’t get a reservation at a date-worthy restaurant to save your life, and you don’t have time to prepare an elaborate multi-course meal. Don’t give in to panic. Preparing a memorable dinner for your significant other doesn’t have to be an epic undertaking. Each of these five quick-to-make recipes is designed to wow without causing you to tear your hair out.
1. Tuscan Porterhouse Steak with Red Wine-Peppercorn Jus
Say no to a pricey steakhouse meal this Valentine’s Day and make your sweetheart a to-die-for dinner at home. This recipe from Epicurious calls for serving a cut of porterhouse in a red wine sauce. You will create an elegant and simple meal that will help you win the holiday without dropping three figures.
- 1 (1½-pound) porterhouse steak (1- to 1¼-inches thick)
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces, divided
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 (4-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ cup medium-bodied dry red wine (such as Chianti, Rioja, or Merlot)
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Directions: Let steak sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, or place them in resealable plastic bag and pound them with a skillet or rolling pin. Pat steak dry and season both sides with crushed peppercorns and kosher salt. Heat oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in an oven-safe 12-inch skillet over medium heat until butter melts. Add rosemary, thyme, and garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until herbs and garlic are fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add steak and cook until nicely browned, about 3 minutes per side. (Do not move the steak while cooking, except to flip.) Transfer skillet to oven and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 110 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare, about 5 minutes (or 120 degrees Fahrenheit for medium, about 10 minutes).
Transfer steak with tongs to a small platter, reserving skillet, and let rest 10 minutes.
While steak rests, pour off oil from skillet, leaving garlic and herbs in skillet. Add wine and boil over medium-high heat, scraping up browned bits, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and any meat juices from platter and boil until reduced by half, 5 to 6 minutes. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter until incorporated, then season with salt and keep warm.
To carve, transfer the steak to a cutting board and cut meat off both sides of the bone (you should have two solid pieces of steak). Thinly slice each piece, then rearrange the slices around the bone on a platter. Drizzle with the jus.
2. Spaghetti and Meatballs
It might not be haute cuisine, but there’s something undeniably romantic about a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs. (It probably has to do with the iconic scene in Disney’s Lady & the Tramp.) You can create the perfect Italian meal for Valentine’s Day with this recipe from Martha Stewart, which goes from kitchen to candlelit table in just 30 minutes. Bonus points if you attempt to reenact that famous cartoon kiss.
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large egg
- 1 pound ground beef chuck
- ¼ cup plain dried breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in puree
- ¾ pound spaghetti
Directions: Set a large pot of salted water to boil. In a bowl, combine Parmesan, parsley, garlic, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add beef and breadcrumbs; mix gently. Form into 16 balls.
In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add meatballs, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente. Drain, and return to pot; add meatballs and sauce, and toss gently. Serve with additional Parmesan.
3. Pomegranate Duck
Sometimes an unusual element is all it takes to elevate a simple meal to something truly special. Take duck breast, which probably doesn’t show up on your dinner table too often. Preparing this succulent meat isn’t any more complicated than roasting a chicken breast, but you’ll still wow your significant other when you present this dish, which is topped with a sweet sauce made from pomegranate juice. Recipe from Eating Well.
- 1 pound boneless duck breast, skin removed
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- ¼ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sprinkle duck with salt. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the duck and cook until browned on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the duck to a small baking dish and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 150 degrees Fahrenheit, 8 to 12 minutes for medium, depending on the size of the breast. Transfer to a cutting board; let rest 5 minutes.
While the duck is roasting, return the pan to medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add pomegranate juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir broth and cornstarch in a small bowl until the cornstarch dissolves. Add to the pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. When the duck has finished resting, pour any accumulated juices into the sauce and stir to combine.
Thinly slice the duck; serve topped with the pomegranate sauce. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
4. Scallops with Shiitake and Oyster Mushrooms
Pair buttery scallops with flavorful and earthy mushrooms for a dinner that’s easy to prepare, yet wouldn’t look out of place at a white-tablecloth establishment. For the best results, buy the freshest scallops possible. Pass on anything that smells too fishy. Serve the cooked scallops and mushrooms with a simple salad and a good wine, and prepare for the compliments to roll in. Recipe from Blue Kitchen.
- ¼ pound fresh shiitake mushrooms
- ¼ pound oyster mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons butter, plus more for scallops
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 scallions, diagonally sliced
- 3 slices fresh ginger
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 10 large sea scallops (about ¾ pound total)
- Flour for dredging (optional)
- Canola oil
- Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
Directions: To prepare the mushrooms, brush off any dirt with a dry paper towel. Remove the stems from the shiitakes, then slice caps in half (slice into thirds if the mushrooms are large). Pull the oyster mushrooms apart so you have individual petals (slice large ones in half lengthwise).
Place 3 tablespoons of butter in a nonstick skillet and melt over medium. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes, sprinkling with salt and pepper and stirring occasionally as they cook. Once the mushrooms have browned, add the scallions, ginger, and wine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine has evaporated.
Add the chicken broth to the pan and reduce heat to low. Cover and let cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Uncover and remove the sliced ginger and remove from heat. (Note: mushrooms can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead; reheat before serving).
Carefully rinse the scallops to remove any grit. Remove any white sinews with a knife. Use a paper towel to dry the scallops (if they aren’t dry, they will steam rather than sear when cooked). If you like, dredge one side of the scallops in a little flour; this will ensure they brown nicely in the pan.
Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Add some canola oil and butter to a nonstick skillet and heat over high. Add the scallops (floured side down) and cook for about 2 minutes. Transfer scallops to the pan with the hot mushrooms, turning them so the browned side is up. Cover and let scallops continue to cook in the pan with the mushrooms for another 2 minutes.
Divide the cooked scallops between 2 plates. Arrange the mushroom mixture around the scallops, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.
5. Boursin-Stuffed Chicken
The humble chicken breast gets a swoon-worthy upgrade when it’s stuffed with Boursin cheese and wrapped with prosciutto. Prepping this tasty main course takes a mere 10 minutes. While the chicken bakes in the oven, you can throw together a quick salad or prepare a simple vegetable side. Recipe from Delish.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
- 1 package Boursin cheese or herbed goat cheese, 4 ounces
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 slices prosciutto
Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using a meat tenderizer, pound the chicken to ¼-inch thick. Pat it dry and liberally season it with salt and pepper on both sides. Place a spoonful or two of Boursin on one end of each piece, top with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, and roll the chicken up, starting at the cheese-topped end. Wrap the chicken with a slice of prosciutto and place in the baking dish seam-side down, so the prosciutto doesn’t unravel. Repeat with all of the pieces of chicken.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear when pierced with a fork or knife.
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