Easy date night recipes

Is eating out really all it's cracked up to be?

Eating out on Valentine’s Day has become a staple of the holiday. But is the reality really all it’s cracked up to be?

You have to remember to book weeks in advance, and woe betide the couples who leave it to the last minute and end up eating somewhere you really don’t want to be.

Romantic table for two at Maccies anyone?

Even with a table at your favourite restaurant, you’ll probably be elbow to elbow with the other couples, paying over the odds for the set menu and the ‘nice’ wine to impress your date.

Or you can buy some candles and enjoy a romantic meal from the comfort of your own home. It may sound like a lot of work, but it really doesn’t have to be. Put that bit of effort in, keep it simple and you can have an amazing night without stepping out of your door.

Keep your starters simple

Oh yes we’re going for the full three courses here. But just because you aren’t going out doesn’t mean you have to shoot for the Michelin Star. There are some really great starters you can make with very little effort that will really pack a punch.

Salad is the obvious option here. Minimal cooking, just get some great ingredients and make them look good on a plate. What could be simpler?

Fancy Fig Salad
Try a Fig Salad for something a bit different. Pair it with some salty prosciutto, creamy mozarella and peppery rocket for a delicious and good looking starter. For a veggie option you can always replace the ham with some goats cheese and add some more balsamic for that salty taste.

4 Figs cut into quarters
4 Slices of Parma Ham/Prosciutto/Ham of choice
Mozarella (as much as you like … so loads!)
Handful of rocket
Chopped Basil (if you’re feeling fancy)
Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar (for dressing)

Then arrange it all together, add the dressing and it will definitely* look something like this:

*instagramability not guaranteed
Gorgeous food courtesy of @anya_sullivan
Gorgeous food courtesy of @anya_sullivan

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
However, if you’re up for a little bit of cooking you can wrap things in bacon. Which is always a winner, is there anything that isn’t improved by bacon? Heston Blumenthal even puts it in ice cream (probably).

You can wrap anything really, shrimp and sausages are always good options. Below is our recipe for bacon wrapped asparagus for something a little fancier than a plate of pigs in blankets.

Asparagus – as many as you want, we’d recommend three or four stalks per wrap and two or three wraps per person. You do the maths.
Bacon – one strip per wrap
2 cloves of garlic and a table spoon of chopped parsley 
Salt and Pepper 
Toothpicks (to keep the bacon together and make it look pretty)

Combine the garlic and parsley together with a good glug of olive oil in a pan and sautee over a low heat for a few minutes, then set aside.

Make sure to snap off the tough ends of the asparagus. They lay three or four asparagus tips per piece of bacon, add salt and pepper and drizzle over some of the garlic oil. Then wrap the bacon around the asparagus and secure it with a toothpick.

Place your bundles of a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 200°C for around 20 minutes or until the bacon is crispy.

Note: Take out the toothpicks before serving, they’re not very tasty.
Close up bacon from @baconraiderbbq
Close up bacon from @baconraiderbbq

Mains

Meze
It’s the perfect choice for even the pickiest partner. Choose the tastiest finger food, you don’t even need to cook it, there’s some really nice options you can pick up from the deli counter. Then just set up a romantic candle-lit picnic (inside unless you’re in Barbados – It’s February) and enjoy!

Few ideas for your Meze:

Houmous (naturally) with Pitta or Crackers or Naan or Sour Dough
Grilled Vegetables  goes great on the houmous. Think Aubergine, Peppers and Courgette
Cheese Halloumi, Feta and Mozarella
Pepperdew peppers stuffed with cheese
Olives (only if you like them of course!)
Stuffed Vine leaves
Deli Meats – Salami, Kofta and Chorizo
Falafel
Artichoke hearts

From @thevegansclub
From @thevegansclub

The pasta option
Everyone knows that pasta is quick and easy to prepare. If you get the fresh stuff not only will it taste better but it’ll take just minutes in the pan. There are a million things you can pair with pasta, so pick your favourite. However, here’s a recipe for a delicious and simple pasta dish.

Lemony peppery prawn linguine

Linguine pasta
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
200ml of stock (chicken or vegetable works well)
Zest and juice from a lemon
King prawns (as many as you like) Pick the peeled, deveined and pre-cooked ones for ease.
2 tablespoons of butter
Chopped Parsley and Basil (around a tablespoon each)

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook your pasta, then drain.

While your pasta is cooking heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for around a minute. Add in your broth, lemon juice and zest and your salt and pepper. Then simmer until the liquid has reduced until about half.

Then add your prawns, butter, parsley and basil into the same pan. Cook for a few minutes until your prawns are cooked through. Add in the linguine and stir it through, keep it on the heat for another 2 mins, stirring the whole time.

@marksdailynosh
@marksdailynosh

Dessert

Desert in a glass is always the way to go, you can make it look uber fancy and you don’t need to make anything too structurally sound.

Tiramisu
It’s the classic dessert and we’ve got a super simple recipe which takes just 15 minutes. Plus, if it’s been made ahead of time, stick it in the fridge and the delicious coffee flavour will soak into the cream more, win-win!

3 tsp of coffee granules
3 tbsp of coffee liquer like Kahlua or Tia Maria
1 tbsp of cocoa poweder
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
250g of macarpone
85g of condensed milk
4 to 6 sponge fingers

Mix together the coffee granules with two tablespoons of boiling water in a large jug and stir to combine them together, then add the coffee liquer and 75ml of cold water. Transfer it to a bowl and leave it to the side for now.

Beat together the mascarpone and condensed milk with the vanilla extract. Use an electric whisk (less effort) and beat together until thick and smooth.

Break up the sponge fingers into smaller pieces and soak in the coffee mixture for a few seconds. Then combine together – put the sponger fingers at the bottom of a bowl, or wine glass if you’re feeling fancy, and top with the cream. Sprinkle a bit of cocoa powder over the top and then leave to chill for around an hour before serving it up.

@imglondon
@imglondon

Grown-up Eton Mess
For a super simple, mix it together dessert, that tastes delicious. Eton mess can be made without the booze, but you can always add it for that extra something special.

3 meringues – Buy the ready made ones
250ml of double cream
200g of strawberries or your berries of choice, mix and match if you like.
50ml of port or kirsch or Cointreau (pick your favourite)

Cut your berries into smaller chunks or slices and place in a bowl with the port and cover and pop in the fridge for a few hours to properly soak in.

Whip the cream. Use an electric whisk again, until you get soft peaks then fold in the berries and alcohol mix. Crush in the meringues and mix those in as well.

Spoon the mix into individual dishes and add some extra berries if you like.

@flavourandsavour
@flavourandsavour

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Abbie Dickinson

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