For anyone looking to have a more intimate Valentine’s dinner (or maybe you just forgot to make a reservation…), I’ve shared some recipes this month that taste really fancy, but don’t actually take ninja kitchen skills or even all day to make.
I always think of artichokes as great date food. Tearing off the beautifully shaped leaves and biting the meat off the ends engages all the senses and provides lots of fodder for romantic gestures or hilarity, depending on your mood.
You can totally impress your date by turning the heat down on these for the last 25 minutes so your artichokes and mushroom tart can be ready at the same time!
2 large whole artichokes, top inch and stems removed
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed a little
Directions: Preheat oven to 425ºF. Place artichokes stem-side down in a bowl and drizzle with lemon juice. Slightly separate the artichoke leaves with your hands—careful! They can be a little prickly! Insert the blade of a knife into the center of each artichoke to create just enough space for a garlic clove. Drizzle with olive oil. Press 1 clove of garlic into each artichoke and season with salt. Tightly wrap each artichoke with aluminum foil. Place in baking dish and bake until sizzling, about one hour and 20 minutes.
Wild Mushroom and Gruyere Tart
Creamy ricotta cheese pairs with earthy, wild mushrooms and buttery, flaky puff pastry to make yet another delightful finger food for all your senses to enjoy.
1/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2 large egg yolks, divided
2 tsp. plus 2 Tbs. olive oil, kept separate
2 Tbs. sour cream
1 lb assorted mushrooms, sliced (go ahead, get wild! Try chanterelles, oysters, shiitakes, you name it!)
2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 Tbs. butter
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
4 oz. thinly sliced Gruyere cheese
Directions: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Add ricotta to food processor, blend until smooth. Add 1 egg yolk and 2 tsp. oil and blend again. Transfer to a bowl and fold in sour cream.
Heat remaining oil in a cast iron skillet over med high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté 7 minutes. Add thyme leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Add butter and sauté additional 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Roll out puff pastry on lightly floured surface until approximately 9”x13”. Using a sharp knife, cut a score line around the whole perimeter 1/4-inch from the edge. Brush this 1/4-inch border with remaining egg yolk, beaten. Transfer the pastry to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread ricotta mixture on the pastry dough, inside the border. Top with mushrooms and Gruyere. Bake tart until crust is golden and Gruyere is melted, about 25 minutes.
Slow Cooker Beet and Butternut Risotto
What’s more romantic than red food? What about rich, velvety red food that’s actually good for you and doesn’t require hours of stirring? The beet and butternut squash in this recipe not only gives the dish its beautiful red color, but also adds a delicious earthy sweetness that pairs well with the spiciness of the sausage.
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
3 cups broth of choice (bone, chicken, veggie, etc.)
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
2 shallots, chopped finely
1/2 c. dry white wine
Andouille sausage, cooked and cut into chunks (optional, but spicy veggie sausage would also be great!)
6-8 oz. butternut squash, chopped, fresh or frozen
1 medium sized beet, chopped
Plenty of Parmesan cheese
5 Tbs. butter, divided
Flatleaf parsley for garnish
Directions: Put the beet and butternut chunks in a microwave-safe container with about a tablespoon of water and microwave them on high until fork-tender, about 10 minutes. If you have lots of time and don’t want to use the microwave, feel free to roast them in a 350ºF oven.
When the beets and butternut are done cooking, toss them in the food processor and blend until smooth.
While those are cooking, melt 2 Tbs. butter in a pan over med high heat and add the garlic and shallots. Sauté until tender and starting to brown 4-5 minutes.
Add the white wine and allow to simmer for a few minutes until the liquid is reduced by about half. Dump the rice in and stir for just a few more minutes (I promise this is the only stirring part!) until all the liquid is absorbed.
Add the rice mixture, the beet and butternut puree, and all the other ingredients except for the cheese, butter, and parsley, and cook on high for 2-3 hours. Stir once about halfway through. When it’s done cooking, turn off the heat and add the remaining butter and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Garnish with additional Parmesan and parsley.