Unusual recipes

These Romantic Dinners Are Perfect for a Night In

These Romantic Dinners Are Perfect for a Night In

Whether you're celebrating Valentine's day or simply opting to have a date over, these healthy and delicious dinners will wow your sweetheart without making you to exhausted to enjoy the meal—or too full to do anything else after.

Sautéed Salmon with Citrus Salsa

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Consider this light dinner an antidote to a season of rich stews, braises, and roasts. Serve with Cilantro Quinoa with Pine Nuts for date night, or double for 4 people. The tart, bright citrus topper cuts through the natural fattiness of the salmon; it would overwhelm lighter fish like cod or flounder. After freeing the citrus sections, squeeze the membranes over a bowl and make a quick vinaigrette for enjoying during the week. Change up the salsa with chopped tart-crisp apples and a seeded minced jalapeño, or try diced ripe pear and pomegranate arils.

Fresh Pea, Prosciutto, and Herb Salad

Build the salad on large slices of ripe tomato for a main that looks and feels more substantial.

Shiitake and Asparagus Sauté With Poached Eggs

Dinner need not center around meat. Here, earthy meaty shiitake mushrooms balance lemony asparagus and a rich, perfectly poached egg. Serve with Herbed Roasted New Potatoes.

Grilled Flank Steak With Cherry-Pecan Rice

With just enough for two, flank steak, grilled simply with salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika, delivers bold flavor and complements the sweetness of the rice, which stars fresh cherries, toasted pecans, and sliced carrots.

Dijon-Herb Crusted Salmon

Salmon is a rich, dense fish, so it takes longer to cook through than white flaked fish like trout or tilapia. Rather than bread the fillets first, add the panko topping to the salmon when it's almost done and broil just until toasted so that the crust doesn't burn before the fish is done. Panko has an incredibly light, crisp texture that's ideal for breading. You could also use regular coarse-ground breadcrumbs or even finely chopped nuts. Dill adds a fresh, vibrant note to the yogurt mixture. Add the rest to vinaigrettes, scrambled eggs, or chicken soup. Serve with our Warm Buttered Radish and Edamame Salad for a quick weeknight dinner perfectly portioned for two.

Lemon-Herb Risotto With Shrimp and Haricots Verts

Risotto requires no special technique, just the patience to keep stirring. Use a ladle to add liquid in even amounts. Sautéed fennel adds a touch of sweetness, but you can leave it out if you prefer and sprinkle on a little dill at the end instead. We pair this staff favorite with Grilled Balsamic Radicchio with Pine Nuts. Radicchio—that bitter, crunchy, scarlet and white vegetable Italians adore, becomes entirely different when roasted or grilled. Red and white-veined radicchio, like its chicory relatives endive and frisée, is loved and sometimes feared for its bitter edge. Tossed into a salad, radicchio is bright and assertive. Sautéed, grilled, or baked, its sharp character mellows. Its color deepens and the flavor turns mellow and nutty, with just a hint of bitterness remaining.

Almond-Crusted Trout With Dill

Smaller trout are often butterflied not separated into fillets, at the fish counter. Each butterflied fish is one serving. Trout gets an extra-crispy crust from the almonds. You could sub flounder for the trout and pecans or walnuts for the almonds. Serve with Fresh Brussels Sprouts Salad with Dijon Dressing.

Miso Noodle Soup with Meatballs

Salty, savory miso becomes the backbone of this soup; try adding it to dressings and marinades too. We add chile-and-honey-spiked pork meatballs to the soup; you could also use shredded rotisserie chicken breast or cubed tofu. Want to get ahead on tomorrow's dinner? Double the meatball mixture, shape half into patties, and sear for Asian-style sliders. Serve with Baby Bok Choy and Cucumber Salad.

Tuna Spring Rolls with Pineapple Dipping Sauce

Look for sustainable yellowfin tuna caught off the U.S. Pacific coast, or sub ½ pound cooked shrimp. Look for rice paper wrappers on the Asian foods aisle of the grocery store; if you can't find them, turn the rolls into lettuce wraps. Use pineapple preserves as a glaze for pork, add to a grilled jam and cheese sandwich, or dollop over coconut ice cream.

Steak With Mixed Olive Tapenade, Butternut Squash, and Green Beans

This bountiful plate comes together in a snap thanks to savvy finds from the supermarket like frozen precooked butternut squash, olives from the olive bar, and spiralized beets (available in the produce section). If you can’t find the beets, you can add 1/3 cup precooked, sliced beets to the cooked and drained green beans. Cutting the steak in half will also speed up cooking; be sure to let it rest a few minutes before slicing.

Grilled Balsamic Chicken Salad With Spiced Pecans

You'll want to double the sweet and spicy sautéed pecans for snacking during the week. Sub fresh summer fruit like blueberries or nectarines for the raspberries. Grill the chicken and make the spiced pecans in advance. Change up the greens, fruit, and dressing for fast lunches.

Seared Mahimahi with Tomato-Cucumber Relish

Mahimahi has a sturdy, dense texture that holds up to the marinade (more delicate fish like snapper or tilapia would cure in the the lime juice). If using a lighter fish, skip the marinade and squeeze lime wedge over the fish after cooking instead.

Simple Flaky Crab Cakes

Photo: Christopher Testani

These crab cakes hold together best with dry, finely ground whole-wheat breadcrumbs; if you use whole-wheat panko, they may fall apart in the pan. Chives have a delicate onion flavor that won't overpower the crab.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Roasted Baby Potatoes

A very hot oven quickly roasts the potatoes and finishes the chicken without overcooking. You can substitute fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise, for the small Yukon gold potatoes. Tarragon and mustard are a perfect pair—the herb's slightly sweet anise notes balance the mustard's pungency. Serve with Chile and Lime Roasted Carrots.

Bistro Steak and Roasted Potatoes

This restaurant-worthy meal feels date-night special. Make sure to let the meat rest before slicing so the juices can redistribute.

Greek Shrimp with White Beans, Tomato Sauce, and Feta

This simple, Tuscan-inspired stew is the perfect casual supper for two, though it can easily be doubled. Enjoy leftovers with a piece of whole-grain French bread baguette for dunking. Chop the fresh fennel fronds and stir a little into the shrimp mixture, top a fresh salad, or make a peso.

Baked Chicken Breasts With Dijon-White Wine Sauce and Haricots Verts

White wine and Dijon mustard are a classic bistro-style pair for chicken. Carrots add body and a touch of sweetness to the pan sauce, but you can leave them out, if you like. Slice the tomatoes horizontally to have a sturdier base and more surface area for the crispy topping.

Beef Tenderloin Steaks With Chipotle Butter and Bell Pepper Sauté

Make sure the cast-iron skillet is hot before adding the steaks so that they get a nicely browned crust on both sides. We like both red and orange peppers, though just one color will work. In place of tenderloin steaks, you can also use top blade steaks or petite tenders.

Coriander-Thyme Lamb Chops With Yogurt Sauce

Lamb loin chops look like minature T-bone steaks and are much leaner than lamb shoulder chops. If you can't find them, you can substitute 2 (4-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks. Whole cumin seeds retain their flavor longer than ground cumin. Crush with a small heavy skillet. Serve with Carrot and Cumin Salad.

Orange-Glazed Salmon with Olive Quinoa

The fragrant orange glaze caramelizes as the salmon quickly cooks under the broiler. To serve 4, double the salmon, glaze, and quinoa, and increase the water for the quinoa to 1¼ cups.

Tuscan Steak Salad

A steak dinner for two feels date-night special, but this meal couldn't be easier. One 8-ounce strip steak is just enough for two; if you care for different levels of doneness, cut the steak in half before grilling.

Filet Mignon with Mushroom-Wine Sauce

Filet Mignon with Mushroom-Wine Sauce is a quick but posh dinner for two. For easy sides, serve with packaged refrigerated mashed potatoes and bagged salad greens with bottled dressing.

Seafood Risotto

Risotto must be served immediately so you can best savor its rich creaminess. With this version, there's just enough for two healthful portions. Complete the meal with a salad, bread, and crisp white wine.

Linguine Carbonara

The luxurious, velvety texture of a good pasta carbonara is ephemeral at best, so you must enjoy it right away. Tempering the egg with hot pasta water keeps the sauce creamy by preventing it from curdling. For a smoky taste, use bacon in place of pancetta.

Coconut and Basil Steamed Mussels

This elegant seafood dish goes perfectly paired with spinach and scallion rice. Ready in just 20 minutes, it’s the perfect mid-week romantic meal for two.

Herbed Chicken and Dumplings

Fluffy herb-flecked dumplings, tender vegetables, and rich dark-meat chicken combine in this soul-satisfying classic. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired.

Pan-Seared Scallops on Linguine

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

A touch of cream gives the slightly tangy sauce a silky-smooth finish in Pan-Seared Scallops on Linguine with Tomato-Cream Sauce. Be sure to serve this dish with bread so you can savor every drop of sauce.

Roasted Rack of Lamb

Take a make-ahead approach to cook a memorable feast for your sweetheart featuring Fennel and Rosemary-Crusted Roasted Rack of Lamb, Truffled Polenta, and Spicy-Sweet Pepper Medley.

Rosemary Shrimp Scampi Skewers

Threading olive oil-marinated shrimp on rosemary-branch skewers imparts a subtle herb flavor to the dish and a fantastic scent to your table. Rosemary has a long history of being associated with the heart. It has been believed by many to be a love charm, by others to be a token of remembrance and fidelity, and by some to be a potent aphrodisiac. Bamboo skewers also work quite well. Serve with steamed haricots verts.

Grilled Lime-Soy Tuna with Noodles

This Asian-inspired meal is the ultimate date-night dinner and mixes textures and tastes for a unique, full-flavored dish.

Chicken Milanese with Spring Greens

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

For a comfortable, cozy meal for two, try this delectable breaded chicken recipe. Serve with rice pilaf or fresh vegetables and lemon wedges.

Caramelized Scallops

Try this simple, elegant recipe for date night at home. Scallops cook quickly and are packed with delicious flavor. This dish serves well with wide rice noodles and sugar snap peas.

Garlicky New York Strip Steak

To make your next steak night a success, watch over the temperature of the meat with a thermometer. This works best on steaks of 1-inch (or more) thickness; it’s hard to get a good reading on anything thinner. We marinate the meat with lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil—but no salt, because the marinade will get discarded. Instead, we sprinkle on a little kosher salt before pan-grilling and finish the sliced steak with gorgeous flaky salt so that it hits your tongue first and offers a beautiful crunchy kick.

Deviled Crab Boules with Beurre Blanc

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Crusty individual bread rounds are stuffed with succulent crab and topped with a buttery wine sauce. Serve with white wine or champagne.

Make-ahead tip: Prepare the bread shells and crab filling up to a day ahead of time. Just store the shells at room temperature in a zip-top plastic bag, and refrigerate the crab filling.

Spice Rubbed Pork Chops

This pork chop dinner for two uses a hint of brown sugar to round out the flavors of the smoky, robust spice rub. Serve with roasted veggies and a glass of sweet Riesling.

Kale, Tomato, and Pancetta Pasta

Tomatoes need a little extra love during winter. This pasta uses them in two ways: first melted into the pancetta drippings for a saucy base, then sautéed until gently blistered with the kale and garlic. Vary the green depending on what you have on hand; shredded Brussels sprouts, chard, or spinach would work. Orecchiette ("little ears" in Italian) have a catcher’s mitt shape that’s ideal for holding the crispy bits of pancetta. You could also use whole-grain shell pasta or rotini.

Coriander-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Potatoes

Crushed whole spices create a beautiful crust on a seared and roasted pork tenderloin. You don't need a spice grinder or mortar and pestle; place the peppercorns and coriander seeds in a ziplock bag and crush gently with a small, heavy skillet until very coarsely ground. Refrigerated potatoes are parcooked, saving you oven time. Coat and sear the pork while the oven preheats. Make the yogurt sauce while the pork and potatoes bake.

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