Ahh, Valentine’s Day. A time of year when we go all out to express our love and show that special someone how much we care. But does this need to include snagging the most elusive restaurant reservations of the year? Instead, think about skipping the crowds and cooking a cozy and romantic Valentine’s Day meal at home. Either prepare the whole thing for your loved one or opt to do the cooking together as a lower cost, more intimate date night activity. Play some tunes, open a bottle of wine or flavored seltzer, and take the opportunity to totally unplug for a few hours. Put the phones away and just focus on each other – well, and the food; you don’t want it to burn.
To truly make it a memorable dinner – and not just another meal at home – consider adding a few special extra touches. Dim the lights, lay down a tablecloth , and light some candles. Pull out the nice China just because. But more than anything, the most romantic gesture of all can simply be setting aside the time to spend with the person you care most about. And, while some romance is always nice, you can apply these same principles to a special family dinner or a night in with girlfriends. However you choose to celebrate, make it feel a little bit extra. We could all use an excuse to treat ourselves and connect more with loved ones.
Valentine’s Day Menu
To make things as easy as possible, we’ve hand-selected a restaurant-quality, multi-course menu that is sure to make the night one to remember (not least because there may be a few aphrodisiacs included).
Start off the night with this slightly sweet, pretty in pink cocktail. Made with apple brandy, grenadine (splurge for the good stuff), and fresh lime juice, it’s easy to prepare but certainly celebratory. Edible flowers make a particularly whimsical garnish.
Oysters are a well-known aphrodisiac, so how could we not include them in a Valentine’s Day menu? They’re delicious whether or not they cause sparks to fly, and this recipe is so simple you can prepare it to slurp alongside your cocktails as you prep the rest of the meal.
Figs are another possible aphrodisiac, but mostly they just add a wonderful flavor and texture to this simple yet elegant salad. If you can’t find mâche, arugula would make a great substitute, and you could swap feta for another cheese like Parmesan or bleu if you’re so inclined.
Lamb chops have a way of always feeling like special occasion food, and this is the sort of recipe you probably don’t make every day. The rich flavors in this dish include chiles in a few forms, and capsaicin (the spicy stuff) ups your adrenaline, which then releases endorphins (which is a long-winded way of saying that chiles are also an aphrodisiac). The lamb does need to marinate for an hour, but you can use that time to nibble on oysters while making the sauce.
This sweet and smoky caramelized cauliflower would make a nice counterpoint to the richly flavored lamb chops. Seasoned with smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, honey, and lemon, the cauliflower cooks up in about 15 minutes in a hot pan as it gets nicely browned and caramelized all over.
End your meal on a sweet note with these decadent and easy to make warm molten chocolate cakes. The middle will be perfectly ooey gooey, and there’s nothing more romantic than chocolate. Top with ice cream, whipped cream, and/or fruit for a winning combination.