Want to seriously impress your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, lover, life partner, or best friend with a romantic dinner at home, especially if you did all the cooking? Whomever your significant other is, they love to eat––who doesn’t?
Now the interesting thing about a love of food is that it’s a bit conditional. We generally prefer good food––fresh, satisfying, and delicious. So being a food lover means there is a particular type of food that you typically tend towards.
For some it’s vegetables––raw, steamed, stir-fried. For others it’s meat––grilled, smoked, roasted. Most of us prefer a combination of carefully balanced flavors, textures, food groups, and even energetic qualities, like heating or cooling.
When you love food, you learn how to prepare it in a way that brings out its best––you nurture your relationship with food just as the food nurtures you. So, when you’re combining two loves––food and your significant other, there is double the reason to give the art of cooking your very best and most generous attention.
This Valentine’s Day, show your Love the size of your love with an at-home dinner experience they’ll never forget. A word of warning––you’ll be raising the bar for all Valentine’s Days to come.
Set the Scene
There’s a huge difference between eating a decadent dinner of champagne and filet mignon sat under a sharp fluorescent light versus by candlelight. Everything tastes better when the environment is set to influence romance. If you’re going with a theme, such as Parisian cafe or Italian trattoria, set the stage accordingly with the right table linens, music, and objets d’art. If you choose to go themeless, the following paragraph gives you some ideas for creating a romantic mood.
Take as much care preparing your table arrangement, lighting, music, and other surroundings as you do on the actual meal. Create a playlist of their favorite tunes, peppered with songs of romance. Set the table with the good dishes, elegant candlesticks, linen napkins. Choose warm as opposed to cool lighting, not overhead but surrounding the table. Strings of tiny white flickering lights are subtle and romantic.
If the whole dinner isn’t already a surprise, consider an extra special gesture of love. One of my favorite memories of special dinners with my partner involves little notes. There are few things that invite you back to adolescent, first-love, butterflies-in-my-belly type feelings than handwritten expressions of love, carefully folded and placed strategically beside a wineglass or tucked under the rim of a plate.
Whatever words you choose –– a poem, a quote, your own expression –– let them reflect your depth of love for your favorite person. You don’t have to be a literary genius, you need only to love the one you’re with. These are the little, simple things that help cultivate and preserve the preciousness of the love you share. And if you plan to drop a big question, there may be no better way than through a handwritten note.
Romantic Dinner Ideas
Now for the food. We chose three (plus one) of our absolute favorite romantic dinner and cooking ideas you can use to impress the one you love this Valentine’s Day. You might be wondering, why only three? To avoid overwhelm. There are a gazillion ideas online for Valentine’s dinner that are a bit, well, cookie-cutter. The best feature of the following three suggestions is that they’re tried, tested, and true. They can be adapted to suit preferences. And they take time and loving attention to prepare.
Homemade pizza tops the charts of all-time best Valentine’s Day dinners. First of all, everyone loves pizza. Second, pizza can be done so many different ways to suit individual taste buds. Third, homemade pizza takes time and patience to make. There may be no better indicator of love than the forbearance required to craft pizza by hand (that includes making the crust from scratch, by the way!). Fourth, you can shape your pizza into a heart and spell out your loved one’s name with the toppings. If that sounds a bit cheesy romantic, it absolutely is! But if there’s anything that brings out our corny, vulnerable, playful nature, it’s love (and commercial holidays).
French Onion Soup
Anything French gets bonus points for romance, just by virtue of being French! French soup can be a meal in itself, given its robust structure with hunks of fresh bread, thick cheese, and superb flavor.
The best route to really good French onion soup is homemade beef stock, rather than those bouillon cubes. Then it’s truly from scratch. While some recipes may call for mozzarella, we always go with Gruyère cheese. It’s slightly sweet, a little salty, mild flavored, and slightly firm so it gives you that thick, gooey cheese that makes French onion soup such a classic.
It’s not everyone’s first choice at an Italian restaurant, but you’ve probably discovered that when you do opt for gnocchi, you wonder why you ever considered anything else.
This rich, decadent potato dumpling dish hits pasta out of the park. Like pizza, good homemade gnocchi takes oodles of time to prepare, and you can make whatever ragu suits your palate to top it. Don’t forget the block of fresh parmesan and a couple sprigs of basil or rosemary for a beautiful, appetizing presentation.
A Heart-Winning Appetizer…
If you’re trying to catch someone’s heart, consider bacon wrapped scallops drizzled with honey as your lasso. These babies are so good you’ll have to prepare an extra-special main course to top them––they set the bar high.
Serve these alongside hunks of fresh, crusty bread and fresh cheese, fire-grilled balsamic portobello mushrooms, roasted roma tomatoes dressed with fresh basil, a bed of fresh spinach and you have a light, though deeply satisfying meal. Pair it with a pinot noir or syrah.
And if you’re looking for some general tips to give your already great cooking a saucier edge, check out this popular post.
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From our kitchen to yours, Happy Valentine’s Day with the one you love.