Going out on Valentine’s Day sounds romantic — wine service, beautifully composed courses, flowers on white tablecloths. But in execution, it’s often less than perfect. Expensive. Crowded. Babysitters are booked, servers are stressed, and if you didn’t plan ahead, you may not get a reservation at your favorite place before 9 pm.
This year, make it a simple romantic dinner for two with one of these easy main course ideas. Pair one of these with a simple salad (such as Boston bibb with radishes and buttermilk dressing, citrus, celery and fennel, or Lidia’s radicchio, goat cheese and raisin salad), a bottle of sparkling wine and a purchased pastry dessert.
Now that’s romantic.
Asian Marinated Pork Chops
These beautiful chops have as much going for them as a delightful first date. Marinated with brown sugar, rice vinegar, ginger, Sriracha, sesame oil, garlic and orange, these chops are rich and flavorful, but inexpensive enough to allow for a box of artisan chocolates for dessert.
This simple flank steak becomes more tender with a lengthy marinade, at least eight hours (but overnight is fine too). The ingredients in the marinade, including rosemary, garlic, balsamic vinegar and red wine, are usually on hand.
Recipe writer EmilyC writes on Food52, “When you cut your steak into bite-sized pieces, a little juice spills out and creates a delicious, impromptu salad dressing. Plan to buy extra steak and salad ingredients when you make this dish — leftovers make a fabulous steak sandwich on toasted ciabatta.”
Seafood is a classic for a romantic dinner. This lovely recipe from Epicurious resembles paella, with lovely mussels, clams and shrimp. Even a simple risotto with just shrimp would be a lovely weeknight dinner, made with whatever wine you’re pouring (ideally a dry white).
Posters rave about the olive relish, and though it’s technically a one-pot dish, recipe testers recommend cooking the seafood separately from the rice to make sure everything comes out right.
Duck is a bit of a splurge, but it’s worth it for a special occasion. This recipe from Food52 takes the French bistro classic, duck confit, and simplifies it for an easy weeknight meal.
“This is not the confit they teach in cooking school, or the kind served at restaurants,” writes the editor who adapted the recipe from Clark’s “In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite.” “It’s the kind you can make any time — all you need are a few good duck legs, a skillet and some very basic spices. And it’s just as good.”
So find a plan for the kids and take the time to enjoy your own special Valentine’s meal at home. We hope you enjoy these simple yet special recipes. All the best for a Happy Valentine’s Day!
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