People often ask me what to serve for dinner on special days. They know all about Turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Ham for New Year’s and Lamb for Easter. But they totally fail when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Well, they’re in luck, ’cause I have plenty of ideas!
Of all the days of celebration on our calendars, Valentine’s Day alone has no classic entrée associated with it. Sure, there’s Chocolate (in all it’s many forms and incarnations), heart-shaped ‘anything’ and red-coloured anything. But that’s not specific enough to be of help to most folks. So, I’ve collected some special, easy mains that celebrate love and intimacy…
It doesn’t have to be heart-shaped, but bright red classic Marinara Sauce will add a Valentine’s feel to any Italian dish. On the other hand, some of the easiest, fanciest-looking Pasta dishes aren’t red at all.
Spaghetti Bolognaise: Spaghetti topped with thick, rich Tomato Sauce full of Ground Beef, Bacon and Fresh Vegetables. The Sauce has a lot of ingredients, but it cooks in a sauté pan in under 25 minutes. (See photo above.)
Spaghetti Carbonara: Perfect al dente Pasta dressed with a thick, creamy Sauce featuring Cheese, Eggs and Crispy Bacon Crumbles. Just 5 ingredients and 15 minutes prep time.
Fettuccini Alfredo: Tender Noodles in a Sauce made with Butter, Cream, Garlic and Cheese. Add chunked Roasted Chicken Breast for a heartier meal. Ready in 5 minutes. You make the Sauce in the pan after tossing the Pasta with Olive Oil.
Remember… You can make any of these great dishes with any pasta you fancy – long or short. I’ve just spotlighted the classic presentations.
Steak Diane: Nicely marbled Beef medallions – use Rib Eye if you can afford it – pan fried quickly with Garlic, Butter, Cognac and Cream. In fancy restaurants they still prepare it tableside and Flambé the pan before adding the Cream.
Beef Wellingtons for Two: Beef Tenderloin medallions, usually 2 in. / 5 cm thick, Sautéed with Mushrooms, Butter, Onions and Sherry. Then wrapped in a Puff Pastry Crust and baked. I’ve linkeed to a recipe for 6; you can scale it down to suit your more intimate needs.
Veal Marsala: Veal Cutlets pan fried quickly then simmered in a Sauce made from Shallots, Garlic, Mushrooms and Sweet Marsala Wine. Ready in just half an hour from start to finish. Serve over Pasta or with Roasted Potatoes on the side.
Chicken Satay: This Indonesian dish has been adopted whole hog by North Americans. Chunks of Chicken Thighs are broiled on skewers and then drizzled with (and dipped in) a creamy Sauce made from Peanuts, Coconut Milk and Lime. Serve over Steamed White Rice. This one takes some prep time, to marinate the Chicken, but it’s worth it!
Chicken Adobo: This Classic Fillipino dish is full of flavour. Marinate bone-in Chicken Thighs in Garlic, Soy Sauce and Vinegar. Brown the Thighs in a frying pan and then make a sauce from their Brown Flavour bits and the Marinade. Serve over Rice Have a nice fresh salad on the side.
Chicken Cacciatore: This Italian favourite is simply Chicken Thighs (or Breasts) simmered in a sauce made of Onions, Tomatoes, Herbs, Vegetables, and Red Wine or Red Wine Vinegar. Serve with Pasta of your choice or Rice (traditional).
Garlic Butter Shrimp: Nice, big Shrimp sautéed in Butter, Garlic, Chicken Stock and Lemon Juice. Serve over Pasta or Rice. I serve this over Fettuccini Alfredo!
Sole Amandine: Lightly Crusted Sole Fillets, fried quickly in Butter and Olive Oil, then topped with a Sauce made from Toasted Almonds, Lemon Juice and White Wine. You can use this recipe/technique to fancy-up any White Fish. Just remember, don’t overcook or the fish will fall apart.
Dijon Baked Salmon: Salmon Steaks Baked in the oven for 12-15 minutes – just enough time to make the Dijon Mustard, Lemon, Garlic and Parsley Sauce. Serve with whatever side you prefer. But I like Rice or Creamy Mashed Potatoes.
That should give you enough to chew on
I’ve tried in this selection of fancy-seeming recipes top choose dishes with as few ingredients as possible and requiring as little prep and cooking time as possible (with a couple of exceptions). Hope you’ll make one of these for your sweetie tonight. I think even guys who don’t cook much can ace any of these delicious ‘special occasion’ dinners!
~ Maggie J.