7 Romantic Recipes to Make for Your Valentine

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Most people totally overthink Valentine’s Day, making the occasion more of a dread than a delight. As long as you keep some basic pointers in mind, February 14 can be completely stress-free. It starts with figuring out your dinner plans.

Yes, you could easily make a reservation and let someone else take care of the cooking. In truth though, making the meal yourself can be just as simple because a lot of elegant recipes keep ingredients to a minimum. And because you won’t have to fight your way through traffic as everyone goes out, you’ll get to spend that much more time enjoying your sweetie’s company. Try these seven recipes to see what we mean.

1. White Bean Crostini with Rosemary

Source: iStock

White bean spread | iStock.com

One of the biggest mistakes people make when planning a multi-course meal is going rich and heavy for every plate of food. This strategy will leave you both feeling bloated, which isn’t ideal for Valentine’s Day. Starting with Food & Wine’s herbed cannellini bean spread on toast is a much better bet. It’s also incredibly easy. Just blend the beans with rosemary, chile flakes, garlic, and oil, then smear the mixture onto some crisped bread.

Ingredients:

  • 2½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 (¼-inch-thick) baguette slices
  • ⅔ cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • Large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons oil with half of the garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Brush bread with garlic oil and arrange oiled-side down on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned and crisp, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine beans, rosemary, and crushed red pepper in a food processor. Add remaining garlic and oil, season with salt and pepper, and process until smooth. Spoon bean spread on toasts and serve.

2. Roasted-Beet Salad with Walnuts and Goat Cheese

salad with beets, spinach and goat cheese

Beat and goat cheese salad | iStock.com

Perfect as a first course or a side for just about any meal, this salad with beets, walnuts, and goat cheese from The New York Times is a total winner. It’s also easy to play around with as long as you stick to the basic combination of nuts, beets, and cheese. We like hazelnuts with blue cheese or pistachios with ricotta.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large or 6 medium beets
  • ¾ cup walnuts
  • 6 cups torn greens
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces goat cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash beets and, while wet, wrap each with foil. Set on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until easily pierced with a knife, 60 to 90 minutes. Let cool, then peel, and cut into chunks.

Spread walnuts in a dry skillet and cook over medium heat, shaking often, until fragrant and beginning to darken, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

Rinse and dry greens. Place in a large bowl along with walnuts. In a small bowl or jar with a lid, combine oil, vinegar, shallot, and Dijon. Season with salt and pepper and blend to combine.

Pour some of dressing onto greens and toss to coat. Divide greens among four plates. In a small bowl, toss beets with some of dressing and arrange over greens. Crumble cheese over top and serve.

3. Mushroom and Burrata Lasagnette

white plate with a slice of mushroom and cheese lasagna

Mushroom lasagna | iStock.com

Cooking for a vegetarian can be intimidating, particularly when you’re trying to make a meal for two because the entrée needs to feel satisfying for both parties. Often, the dinner ends up feeling like nothing more than a bunch of sides. If you make this mini mushroom lasagna from Epicurious, you and your date will be 100% happy. Better yet, you can assemble everything in advance. Just wrap the lasagnette with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge. Then all you have to do is pop it in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more
  • 1½ pounds mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, maitake, and chanterelle, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 6 fresh pasta sheets or 12 dried lasagna noodles
  • 8 ounces burrata or fresh mozzarella, torn into large pieces
  • 1½ ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 6 teaspoons marjoram leaves
  • ½ bunch Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and starting to crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with another tablespoon each of oil and butter and remaining mushrooms. Return all mushrooms to skillet, add shallot, wine, and remaining butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until skillet is dry, about 5 minutes. Return mushrooms to bowl.

Combine ricotta and cream in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Working in batches, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring, until just softened, about 30 seconds for fresh pasta. If using dried noodles, cook until al dente. Drain noodles and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Brush with oil.

Spread a thin layer of ricotta mixture in a small baking dish. Top with a pasta sheet or two cooked lasagna noodles. Spread a spoonful of ricotta mixture over and scatter some mushrooms over. Add a few pieces of burrata, top with some Parmesan, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon marjoram. Repeat layering 5 more times. Finish with last of Parmesan and a grind or two of pepper.

Cover lasagnette with foil and bake until warmed through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until golden, about 15 to 20 minutes longer. Let cool for at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss kale in a large bowl with vinegar and remaining tablespoon oil. Massage leaves just to soften. Season with salt and pepper. Serve lasagnette with kale.

4. Flat Iron Steak with Herb Butter

Source: iStock

Steak with herb butter | iStock.com

Most fancy steak preparations are fairly simple, but you can run into trouble with the sauces. A lot of recipes call for demi-glace, which very few people are just going to have on hand because it takes half a day to make and the product can be tricky to find at grocery stores. No one needs to spend days preparing for one meal, so opt for Saveur’s simple steak with compound butter, adapted from a Marlow & Sons recipe. It tastes great and takes hardly any time.

Ingredients:

  • 4 (8-ounce) flat iron steaks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped chives
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil

Directions: Rub steaks generously with salt and pepper and set aside for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Combine butter, parsley, chives, and shallots in a medium bowl with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add two steaks and cook, flipping once, until seared and medium rare inside, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining oil and steaks. Serve each steak smeared with some of the butter.

5. Roasted Cod with Olives and Lemon

Cod, white fish, seafood, vegetables

Cod | iStock.com

Seafood has a way of feeling fancy, even when the recipe is super simple. Country Living’s cod with potatoes, olives, and lemon is a great example. You only need eight ingredients and 45 minutes, yet the end result tastes like it came out of a high-end restaurant.

Ingredients:

  • 3 small lemons
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 20 pimento-stuffed green olives
  • 18 small red potatoes
  • 6 cod fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place lemon slices in a single layer on a large roasting pan. Lay thyme sprigs over top, then sprinkle with olives.

Halve each potato and place in a large bowl, microwave-safe bowl. Fill bowl with enough water to cover potatoes. Microwave until potatoes can easily be pierced with a knife, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes and scatter around edge of pan.

Set fish fillets on lemon and drizzle oil over fish and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to oven and reduce temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake until fish is fully cooked, about 25 minutes. Serve.

6. Duck Breasts with Citrus-Port-Cherry Sauce

duck breast

Duck | iStock.com

If there’s any protein that feels more appropriate for a special occasion than duck, we haven’t heard of it. Because the meat tastes so rich on its own, you really don’t need much to make it sing. We particularly like Claire Robinson’s duck with a fruity port sauce, featured on Food Network. Feel free to swap in other varieties of fruit as well. Blueberries, blackberries, or dried figs all go wonderfully with duck.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless duck breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, minced
  • ¼ cup ruby port wine
  • ⅓ cup fresh orange juice plus 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ cup pitted frozen black cherries, thawed and roughly chopped

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Score skin of each duck breast in two directions to create a crosshatch. Season both sides of each breast with salt and pepper.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add duck, skin-side down. Sear until skin is golden, about 10 minutes. Flip and sear other side for 3 minutes. Transfer duck to a baking dish, skin-side up, and set in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour off most of the duck fat from skillet. Set skillet back over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until translucent. Add port and juice, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in orange zest and cherries. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 5 minutes to thicken, mashing cherries with back of a wooden spoon.

Slice duck into ¼-inch-thick slices on a diagonal. Serve with sauce.

7. Easy Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse Dessert, pudding

Chocolate mousse | iStock.com

Instead of trying to pull off a complex dessert, make a Two Peas & Their Pod’s 4-ingredient chocolate mousse. The results are just as impressive as any cake, but the method is far easier. You don’t even have to turn on your oven. Simply mix some egg yolks into melted chocolate, whip the whites with some salt, then fold everything together. The only hard part is waiting patiently for the mousse to set in the fridge.

Ingredients:

  • 7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • Pinch of coarse salt

Directions: Combine chocolate and water in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water. Heat while stirring until nearly melted. Remove bowl from heat and continue to stir until mixture is completely smooth. Set aside and let cool.

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites with salt at medium-high speed until mixture reaches stiff peaks. Do not overbeat.

When chocolate has reached room temperature, stir in yolks to combine. Working in thirds, fold in whites until combined. For last addition, fold just until no more white streaks remain.

Pour mousse into a bowl or individual serving dishes, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Serve.

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