We challenge you to do something different this Valentine’s. Instead of jamming to the restaurant for an overpriced but sub-par meal, why not brave your kitchen and surprise your loved one with a homemade candlelit dinner? Nothing says “I love you” more than a handpicked menu, carefully prepared by your own two hands.
You don’t have to worry about parking, or brushing shoulders with other couples out on a date. Light up candles for an extra romance boost, bring out your dusty table placemats and get ready for a romantic night in.
Here are 30 recipes to help you out; from starters, mains to desserts, we’ve got you covered:
1. Breadcrumb Stuffed Mushrooms
This is a classy appetiser that looks beautiful on a bed of green, but is deceptively simple to make. All you need are breadcrumbs (use whole grain), parmesan, garlic, parsley and olive oil, stuffed into hollowed out mushrooms and baked in the oven till golden brown. Absolutely scrumptious. Recipe here. [Vegetarian-friendly]
2. Oven-Roasted Eggplant with Caramelised Miso
This recipe takes the boring eggplant and dresses it up with miso to make an incredibly sexy dish that’ll look great on the table without disappointing the taste buds. Simple ingredients but explosive flavour. Recipe here. [Vegetarian-friendly]
3. Sweet Potato Feta Crostini
Sweet potatoes, garlic, feta, cranberries, and sage come together beautifully for a delicious and appetising starter that won’t leave you overly stuffed for the main. Recipe here. [Vegetarian-friendly]
4. Shiitake Napa Cabbage Gyoza
Who doesn’t love dumplings? We know we do! You can stuff anything into a gyoza and it’ll taste passably good. But this combination of cabbage, scallions, tofu, edamame along with miso paste make this a pocketful of flavour. Recipe here. [Vegetarian-friendly]
5. Mushroom Bruschetta
If you’re really strapped for time, this recipe takes no time at all, but rewards you with an impressive dish that looks like it came out of a hotel kitchen. And mushrooms never go wrong! Recipe here. [Vegetarian-friendly]
6. Oyster Shooters
Oysters are great aphrodisiacs so if you found some fresh ones at the fishmongers, why not do a few oyster shooters to kick off the night? Recipe here.
7. Summer Squash with Little Gems
Light, crunchy and tart, this makes a great starter if you’re planning for a full three-course meal. This requires no cooking so don’t worry if you think you don’t have the skill. Just get the ingredients, assemble and go. Recipe here. [Vegetarian-friendly]
8. Thai Chicken Meatballs
Cilantro, ground coriander seed, and onions add great flavour to the meatballs. Serve on a bed of greens and a small dish of sweet chilli sauce. Recipe here.
9. Sweet Corn and White Cheddar Soufflé
You might think you’re incapable of soufflés but they’re actually pretty simple to prepare once you have the know-how. Get the recipe here. [Vegetarian-friendly]
10. Simplest Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
This makes a great refreshing starter or side dish with dried cherries, cheese crumbles and slivered almonds tossed together in a lovely balsamic vinaigrette. Recipe here. [Vegetarian-friendly]
11. Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Chicken Sausage & Kale
A healthier version of its traditional Italian counterpart, these sweet potato gnocchi are made with whole wheat flour instead of the regular white flour. Leave out the sausage if you’re vegetarian and the dish will still taste amazing. Recipe here.
12. Lemon Garlic Tilapia
You don’t really need much cooking skills for this, as it’s just about slathering the fillets with chopped garlic, fresh lemon juice, parsley, pepper and melted butter, then baking it in the oven for 30 minutes. All that matters is that it tastes and looks great. Recipe here.
13. Beef Bourguignon
The beauty of this classic French dish is that you can throw everything into a slow cooker in the morning, and ignore it till you’re ready for your meal! You can serve it with potatoes or some freshly toasted whole grain bread to mop up all that delicious sauce! Recipe here (video).
14. Shrimp & Scallop Diavolo Pasta
Seafood + pasta = romance. And this plate of romance is full of vibrant flavour and life. Don’t ask, just cook. Recipe here.
15. Ginger-Glazed Mahi-Mahi
The sweet and sour glaze adds layers of flavour onto the fish, which goes great with some wholegrain rice and steamed veggies. It’s a pretty straightforward recipe which delivers beautifully. Get recipe here.
16. Edamame Dumplings
Using pre-made wantan wrappers, this dish comes together really fast but looks fabulous. The edamame filling peeks through the pouch, giving it a faint green hue while spring onions and sesame seeds add a pop of colour. Recipe here. [Vegetarian-friendly]
17. Pumpkin Penne with Parmesan
This is comfort food, but healthy. Creamy pumpkin, al denta whole grain penne, and parmesan is a match made in heaven, just like you and your sweetheart. Trust us, you’ll be licking the plate clean. Recipe here. [Vegetarian-friendly]
18. Falafel Wraps with Grilled Veg & Salsa
This dish comes together in 15 minutes but looks beautiful on the table. Just plonk the chopped veggies, falafels onto a plate and serve with pitas for a fun dinner of assembling your own wraps! (Or assembling each other’s wraps lovingly, since it’s V-day and all) Recipe here. [Vegetarian-friendly]
19. Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini
Move aside supermarket tortellini. This video recipe teaches you how to make this impressive dish from scratch, with British accents to boot! These spinach and ricotta tortellini comes together easier than you’d think, but they’re oh-so-impressive. Recipe here. [Vegetarian-friendly]
20. Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta
The Mediterranean flavours of feta, garlic and parsley mingles together with the shrimp to create a dish which goes great with some wholegrain pita or toast. Recipe here.
21. Chocolate Fondue
Chop up some of your preferred fruits and melt some dark chocolate and you’re ready to roll. What? Still need a recipe? Here you go.
22. No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
Make this a night ahead and stick it in the fridge so you don’t have to stress too much on the day itself. Leftovers will be so, so good. Recipe here.
23. Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
What’s V-day without strawberries and chocolate? This quintessential romance dessert comes together with almost no effort at all. Just make them a day ahead and store them in the fridge. Recipe here.
Related: 4 Low Guilt Raw Chocolate Recipes
24. Baked Apples
Cinnamony and sweet, these baked apples will remind you of your fondest childhood memories. Mmm. Recipe here.
25. Red Velvet Pancakes
You probably can’t be bothered baking a whole cake for two people, so pancakes are probably a good solution. It might not sound like the healthiest dessert, but the recipe uses whole wheat pastry flour as well as oat bran to make this a less sinful red velvet. Recipe here.
This recipe omits the sugar for a low-carb pannacotta that’s a delicious end to a romantic meal. Recipe here.
27. No Bake Chewy Truffle Cookies
Using dates and honey as a sweetening agent instead of sugar, this is a healthier take on the traditional truffles. They will make wonderful company on the couch while you and your darling watch a movie (or make out). Recipe here.
28. Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
This cheesecake is a liar. But an incredibly good one. It’s 100% cheese-free and low in calories, but so delightfully creamy and rich. Want to learn what the secret ingredients are? Get the recipe here.
29. Malted Chocolate Pudding Cake
This is exactly what a chocolate cake should be — fudgy, chocolatey and rich. However, it’s not the easiest cake around, so steer clear if you’re looking for something simple. Recipe here.
30. Strawberries-n-Cream Cupcake
Want to make a healthy-ish cupcake for just the two of you instead of a whole batch? This recipe is your answer! It uses wholewheat flour, coconut oil, and stevia instead of the regular suspects for more health and less guilt. Free opportunities to wipe cream off his or her lip! Recipe here.
For those who would love a little dose of alcohol, here are 8 healthy cocktail recipes to indulge in!
Have a happy Valentine’s Day!
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