Whether you’re spending this Valentine’s Day with your bestie or significant other, it’s the perfect opportunity for a romantic dinner. From a fizzy, basil-infused cocktail to a vegan spin on a classic, creamy Roman pasta to a rich chocolate mousse, this easy (yet decadent) dinner will leave you feeling the love.
Recipes by Katie McCall
Thanks to dishes and prep that can be done ahead, this 5-course menu is doable and delicious while leaving you plenty of time to sit down and enjoy. What’s not to love about that?
Grapefruit + Basil Fizz
For the basil simple syrup, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Once the mixture begins to bubble, add a handful of torn basil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to steep 10 minutes. Strain the leaves and refrigerate until mealtime.
With a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel several strips of the grapefruit rind and set aside. Slice the grapefruit in half and squeeze the juice through a strainer into a liquid measuring cup or small bowl.
Pour the juice into two glasses. Add 1 tablespoon of the simple syrup to each glass and stir. Top off with Prosecco, a few ice cubes, a strip or two of grapefruit rind, and a basil leaf for garnish.
Quick Herbed "Aioli" with Crudités
To make the aioli combine the mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, herbs, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Stir until combined and refrigerate until serving.
Sprinkle fresh herbs over the aioli before serving. Assemble veggies on a platter and enjoy!
Mixed Greens Salad with Dijon-Chive Vinaigrette
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper; to taste
1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
1/2 cup Marcona almonds, chopped
3-4 cups assorted greens (lollo rossa, matilda, red romaine, etc.)
For the vinaigrette, combine the Dijon, vinegar, olive oil, honey, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and chives in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until combined. Stir in a little water until you reach your desired consistency. Refrigerate until serving.
Pile greens in the center of two small plates, sprinkle with the almonds, and drizzle with vinaigrette.
Creamy Vegan Cacio e Pepe
1 tbsp whole peppercorns
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup sunflower (or cashew) butter
1 tsp salt
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
8-10 oz spaghetti
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups pasta water (saved from cooking)
1 lemon, juiced
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan (or plant-based cheese)
Crush the peppercorns with the back of a knife. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the nutritional yeast, sunflower butter, salt, and garlic until a thick paste forms. Set aside.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, add the pasta and cook until 2 minutes less than al dente (typically 8-9 minutes). Strain, reserving 2 cups of the pasta water (set aside).
In the same pot, over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and 2/3 of the crushed peppercorns. Cook until peppercorns become fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the sunflower butter paste and 1 1/2 cups of the reserved pasta water. Whisk until a smooth sauce begins to form. Add the lemon juice and cooked pasta.
Reduce the heat to medium. Toss until noodles are glossy and coated in the sauce; cook an additional 2 minutes or so. Add more pasta water, if needed. Salt to taste.
Spoon pasta into a serving dish, drizzle olive oil over top, squeeze some lemon juice, sprinkle chopped parsley and cheese.
Vegan Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries
1 cup unsweetened, full-fat *canned* coconut milk or cream (Coconut cream/milk from the refrigerator section won’t whip up!)
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
6-8 strawberries, sliced
Dark chocolate, to garnish
Gardyn Lavender, to garnish
Refrigerate the coconut milk/cream overnight or place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. All brands are different, so be sure to use 1 cup of the thick, fatty part of the can’s contents; any liquid left in the can should not be used for this.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl (or stand mixer with the whisk attachment), whisk the coconut milk/cream until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until well-combined and smooth. Divide mousse into two glass dishes; cover and refrigerate until serving.
Remove mousses from the refrigerator. Top with sliced strawberries and a shaving of dark chocolate.