Next time you have a date coming over for dinner, whip up a classic and sophisticated meal that is destined to impress. You don’t have to be a restaurant chef to make something special — you simply have to know how to follow a recipe. So instead of going to restaurant after restaurant with your date, try cooking at home instead. These date night dinners will yield seven dishes you’ll feel proud of. They’re not only easy on the stomach — they’re also easy on the eyes.
1. Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon
Starting out on a high note, we’re highlighting this recipe for pepper-crusted filet mignon from Chowhound. If your date eats red meat, consider this dish a home run. Yielding 4 servings and taking only 30 minutes to make, you can whip up this steak just before your guest arrives. Just say “yes” to peppercorn butter.
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon whole green peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 (6-ounce) filet mignon steaks
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Head to Chowhound for the full recipe.
2. Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Cream Sauce
If you’re more comfortable with poultry, try this recipe for chicken breasts with mushroom cream sauce from Eating Well. The food formula only yields 2 servings, meaning you won’t have to deal with pesky leftovers, and like the steak, it takes just 30 minutes to make. You’ll first cook your chicken before whipping up the classic mushroom cream sauce, and as you’ll see, a little heavy cream goes a long way.
- 2 (5-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and tenders removed
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
- 2 tablespoons dry vermouth, or dry white wine
- ¼ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives, or scallion greens
Head to Eating Well for the full recipe.
3. Pasta With Roasted Red Peppers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Brie
Is spaghetti your specialty? If so, this recipe from The Kitchn is for you. This pasta with roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and Brie can be made in just one pot, and it’s just as pretty as it is delicious and nutritious. The creamy Brie pairs perfectly with the pasta that gets tossed with salty red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and basil, and the garnish of fresh Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil doesn’t hurt either.
- 12 ounces linguine, broken in half
- 1 cup packed basil leaves
- 1 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers
- ½ cup sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 3 to 4 large garlic cloves, pressed
- 4½ cups water
- 2 tablespoons oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed and torn into pieces
- Grated parmesan, for serving
- Good quality olive oil, for serving
Head to The Kitchn for the full recipe.
4. Grilled Salmon with Mustard Wine Sauce
Fish is up next, and this food formula featured on Sunset is a good one. If you’re not sure what to make on date night, salmon is always a safe choice, and this recipe yields a dish that appears sophisticated but actually couldn’t be simpler. Make sure to serve this fish with a glass (or two) of white wine.
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 6 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Head to MyRecipes for the full recipe by Sunset.
5. Wild Mushroom Risotto
Impress your date with this indulgent wild mushroom risotto from Martha Stewart. Everyone loves a good risotto, but many leave it to restaurant chefs to perfect. Unbeknownst to many, risotto is surprisingly easy and only requires some patience. This particular risotto dish is free of meat but heavy on the mushrooms and cream. The chicken stock on the ingredients list can also easily be substituted with veggie stock if you have a vegetarian on your hands.
- 6 to 8 cups chicken broth
- ¼ ounce dried wild mushrooms, such as porcini
- 9 ounces assorted fresh wild mushrooms
- 7 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped shallots
- 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 4 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for grating or shaving
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Head to Martha Stewart for the full recipe.
6. Pan-Seared Scallops with Pesto and Tomato
Try your hand at these pan-seared scallops with pesto and tomato from Rachael Ray Every Day. The restaurant delicacy can be made right at home and in only 20 minutes. Serving 2, this recipe calls for scallops, cheese, pine nuts, basil, garlic, and lemon juice, and the pesto can be easily made right in your food processor or blender. Sear up your scallops and then you’re good to go. It’s hard to say no to pesto, and when scallops are involved, your date doesn’t stand a chance.
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, plus 2 tablespoons finely shredded basil
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 plum tomato, finely diced
- 4 large scallops
Head to Rachael Ray Every Day for the full recipe.
7. Grilled Ginger-Marinated Flank Steak
Back to the beef, we’re concluding our list with a recipe from Saveur for ginger-marinated flank steak. Prepare your gingery marinade ahead of time and let your meat soak for at least 30 minutes. The steak will only cook on the grill for six to eight minutes, and then it’s time to light a date night candle and chow down.
- ¼ cup toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 (5-inch) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 (1½-pound) flank steak
Head to Saveur for the full recipe.