Valentines Day is one of the few days of the year that restaurants have guaranteed  bookings, I would know, I’ve worked in a whole bunch. They can be crowded and over priced and add stress. So why go out when you can stay in, and cook an easy but impressive homemade meal for Valentines Day? Here’s some easy recipes I think would be perfect.

The way I’ve structured this blog is I’ve split the different recipes over 5 courses. You don’t have to make 5 courses, but you can instead pick and chose. I’ll link to recipes I think are great, and I’ll paste down my favourite ones.

Cold Appetisers

  1. A simple antipasto selection. This is super quick an easy to do, I would suggest going to your local deli and buying a selection of cured hams, salamis and cheeses. Also include olives, sun ripened tomatoes or other marinated vegetables and some breadsticks, spread it all out of a wooden board and you’re good to go!
  2. Bruschetta. Easy to make, lots of variations and pretty fast. It’s a good starter because it’s relatively light starter, which gets the palette going but still leaves room for the rest of the meal!
  3. A light Salad. Salad is truly under appreciated, and I think that’s because most people don’t think of fun adventurous things when they think of Salad. There are so many types out there! Think of ingredients such as pear or raspberry to put in your salad, a flavoured vinaigrette and different types of nuts. For a bright and colourful starter, why not try this Beetroot and Orange Salad with Walnuts?
  • 4-5 beetroot, peeledBeetroot
  • 4tbsp olive oil, plus a little for cooking the beetroot
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4-5 oranges
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • A pinch of mixed spice or ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of chilli powder
  • A large handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves
    1.
    Cut your beetroot into wedges about the size of orange segments. Heat a large lidded pan. Add a gloss of oil, just enough to coat the bottom. Spread your beetroot out on the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cover. Cook till tender, about 15 mins, turning once.
    2.
    Pour 4 tbsp of olive oil in a jam jar. Add a pinch of salt. Squeeze in 4 tbsp orange juice from one of your oranges, 1 tsp of the honey and a pinch of each spice. Pop a lid on the jar. Shake till well mixed.
    3.
    Top and tail your remaining oranges. Cut the peel off the sides. Slice into rounds.
    4.
    Toast your walnuts in a frying pan. Once fragrant, gloss with the remaining honey. Add a pinch of salt. Mix. Remove from heat. Tip the walnuts on a cutting board. Let them cool.
    5.
    Arrange the beetroot and orange slices in a bowl or plate. Drizzle over the dressing. Scatter the walnuts and mint leaves over. Serve.

 

Hot Appetisers

  1. Potato wrapped in bacon. It’s a simple, tried and tested combination and it’s perfect. I also like to wrap cherry tomatoes in bacon and serve the two together, since the tomatoes adds a nice contrast in flavours.
  2. Spinach Dip. I found this Martha Stewart recipe to be fantastic, because you can make parts of it in advance, which helps the overall amount of cooking you have on the day, and also because I think any foods that involve fondue type dipping to be very romantic.
  3. Speaking of dipping, I like Ebi Katsu. It’s prawns in breadcrumbs, which in England we have a version of called Scampi. Ebi Katsu however looks much more impressive, but it’s something I’ve cooked since I was about 14 so it’s not that hard. This recipe has great step by step pictures too!

 

Pasta Dish

  1. Butternut Squash Gnocchi. Gnocchi is actually really easy to make at home, plus it sounds mega impressive if you say you made it yourself. This one can be done using a food mixer for nearly the entire recipe, so it’s less messy.
  2. Pasta Carbonara. It’s a favourite, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
  3. Avocado Pasta. I’m pretty sure Avocado is one of my favourite ingredients in the whole wide world, and avocado makes for a mega creamy pasta sauce without cream!

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 ounces spaghettiAvocado
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup canned corn kernels, drained and rinsed

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
  • To make the avocado sauce, combine avocados, basil, garlic and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor; season with salt and pepper, to taste. With the motor running, add olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine pasta, avocado sauce, cherry tomatoes and corn.
  • Serve immediately.

Meat Dish

  1. Pork Chops with Apple and Cider. Pork chops are great for adding exotic flavours to, whether it’s blood orange or granny apples. I like the fruity combination with my meat.
  2. Baked Trout with Tomatoes. Baked fish always looks good, and it’s so easy to do because the best recipes are the simple one. They’re also easy to adapt so if you don’t have trout, then try a different fish!
  3. Roast Chicken.  Roast chicken is delicious and it’s also EASY to cook! It’s so simple, and you just put the chicken and the veg in the oven, wait, boom, it’s done. It also looks impressive and you’ll have great chicken for sandwiches the next day!

Dessert

  1. I found this very fun recipe for S’mores Cookies. It’s pretty easy to make, it’s a fun twist on normal cookies and it’s delicious. Serve with ice-cream. If you’re in the UK you can find substitutes for the chocolate and graham crackers, they don’t have to be brand specific!
  2. Chocolate Dipped Strawberries. Simple. Romantic. Melt chocolate. Dip Strawberries. Leave to set. Perfect.
  3. Chocolate Cheese and Strawberry Mousse. In case simply dipping strawberries in chocolate wasn’t enough for you… This is a more sophisticated dessert that is still very romantic.

 

There are lots more recipes, and lots of ideas but I hope this has given you inspiration for a delicious and romantic homemade meal for Valentines Day! I suggest serving it all on a table for 2, with candle light, soft music and some flowers. No seriously, get her the flowers.