By Christine Hinrichs
Each year when Valentine’s Day rolls around, I see people scrambling for cards, candies, and restaurant reservations. It seems so stressful and annoying, and so anti-Valentine’s Day! In lieu of buying a bunch of red-themed stuff and shoving it in your sweetie’s face, this year, try wooing your significant other with a romantic, Valentine’s Day home-cooked dinner. It’s intimate, special, and it shows that you care more than a phone call to a local restaurant. But for many people, cooking dinner at home can be a stressful and time-consuming endeavor. So I put together an impressively-looking, but very simple menu of three delicious courses, each brimming with romance and aphrodisiacs. It’s sure to put any couple in the mood … you’ve been warned!
And if you hate Valentine’s Day, check back next week for our recipes for an ‘I Hate Valentine’s Day Party.’
Spinach & Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Figs
Arugula and Figs are the aphrodisiacs in this dish! It’s easy to throw this salad together while the rest of your dinner is cooking away.
Large handful of spinach leaves
Large handful of arugula leaves
1/3 cup chopped figs
1/3 cup crumbled coat cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
Combine the lettuces in a large bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and taste to adjust seasonings. Then add the chopped figs and crumbled goat cheese.
Saffron Couscous with Roasted Vegetables
Saffron is expensive, but you only need a little bit and it goes a long way. This is the romancer in your main course!
1/4 teaspoon (a small pinch) saffron threads
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth + more if needed
1 cup pearl (Israeli) couscous
2 carrots, peeled & diced
2 golden beets, peeled & diced
1 parsnip, peeled & diced
1 large shallot, cut into half-moon shapes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with about a tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables on an even layer on the baking sheet. Bake until softened and browned, about 35-40 minutes.
In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable broth with the saffron threads. Let the threads steep in the warm liquid for about 15 minutes. In a larger saucepan, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and add the couscous, toasting until just browned. Add the saffron liquid and cook according to the packaged directions. Add more liquid if needed until the couscous is cooked. Fluff with a fork. The saffron will give the couscous a lovely, yellow color.
Serve the couscous alongside the roasted vegetables and round off the meal with a piece of crusty bread. Top with fresh parsley and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.
Easy – chocolate is the winner here! Extra points if you feed one another the chocolate-dipped morsels.
7 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
In a double boiler over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and cream together.
Once melted, serve with skewers and any one of these delicious accompaniments: sliced banana, halved strawberries, pound cake cut into cubes, salted pretzel sticks, graham crackers, brownie bites, raspberries, or whatever your in-love heart desires.
Christine Hinrichs is a vegetarian who loves everything related to food. She daydreams about recipes, frequents the local farmers’ markets and reads cookbooks before bed. When not preoccupied with food, she enjoys running the lakes and trails in the Twin Cities and helps rescue stray animals from local shelters. Read about her food adventures at ruminationsonfood.blogspot.com.