Valentine’s Day at home? Here are five ideas for simple dishes you can cook together

Recipes that feel glamorous but come together easily.
Published February 6
Updated February 6

There are many different phases of a relationship.

Some require fragrant flowers and delicate chocolates; others merely call for both partners to put away their laundry in a timely manner. Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays where you really need to read the room. Counting your pennies? Don’t blow your cash on a diamond bracelet. Is your date not one for crowds? Maybe go out on Feb. 12 instead.

And if in the middle of the week all you can muster is pajamas at 7 p.m., just stay in. Spread a blanket on your living room floor, maybe catch up on those Fyre Festival documentaries.

But things don’t have to be boring. You can make sweet memories with your significant other, or a friend, by cooking up some simple yet lovely dishes. We’ve assembled a handful of recipes that have a glamorous feel but come together quite easily, like fondue (you don’t need a pot!), a salad topped with sirloin steak and blue cheese, and a roasted chicken dish.

Start the night off with pomegranate mimosas — one part vibrant red pom juice (a superfood and aphrodisiac) mixed with two parts Champagne. Or seltzer water to keep it nonalcoholic. It is a Thursday, after all.


Cheese Fondue

1 medium clove garlic, cut in half

1 cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio, plus more as needed

½ pound Swiss cheese, grated

½ pound Gruyere cheese, grated

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon fresh juice, from 1 lemon

Kosher salt

Freshly ground white or black pepper

Toasted bread cubed and/or lightly blanched vegetables, for dipping

Rub cut faces of garlic cloves around the inside of a stainless steel mixing bowl set over a pot of simmering water. (Do not allow the bowl to come into direct contact with the water.) Add wine and heat until steaming. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss together both cheeses with cornstarch until evenly coated.

Working over low heat, add cheese one handful at a time, stirring until mostly melted before adding next handful. Continue until all cheese is melted into the wine, forming a smooth, glossy melted cheese sauce, about 10 minutes. It is very important that the fondue stay below a simmer once you start adding the cheese, or there’s a risk it could break. Stir in lemon juice until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat only when ready to eat, then serve with toasted bread cubes and lightly blanched vegetables for dipping. If fondue begins to thicken too much, add a small splash of wine to loosen it.



Steak and Blue Cheese Watercress Salad

1 sirloin steak, about 4 to 6 ounces


Freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil

4 ounces watercress

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

1 ripe pear, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Blue cheese dressing, homemade or store-bought

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper on both sides. Add a swirl of olive oil to skillet. When oil is hot, add steak to pan. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until desired degree of doneness. (I like medium.)

Remove steak to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Cut into very thin slices.

Divide watercress between two plates. Divide onion and pear between the plates, too. Sprinkle both with blue cheese and walnuts. Top with steak. Drizzle lightly with blue cheese dressing.

Serves 2.

Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times


Lemon Rosemary Dutch Oven Chicken

2 russet potatoes

Extra-virgin olive oil

8 pieces chicken, a combination of thighs, legs or wings



4 cloves garlic, smashed

2 tablespoons butter

10 sprigs rosemary

2 lemons (one sliced into ⅛-inch slices; the other one juiced)

Fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Cut potatoes into ½-inch chunks. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add potatoes.

Saute potatoes until golden brown on one side, then flip to brown second side. Remove potatoes from skillet and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In the same skillet used to cook potatoes, heat another 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute garlic for 1 minute. Add chicken and cook until golden brown, turning and browning both sides. Remove skillet from burner and set aside.

Butter the sides of a baking dish or an oven-safe Dutch oven. Add chicken (and garlic cloves), potatoes, rosemary sprigs and lemon slices.

Drizzle lemon juice and more olive oil on top of all ingredients.

Bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley and more salt, and serve.

Serves 2.

Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times


Paella With Shrimp and Chorizo

2 tablespoons olive oil

¾ pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

10 ounces chorizo sausage

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ cups long-grain rice

¼ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

Coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

Crusty bread

Fresh parsley

Halved lemons

In a heavy 12-inch saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Cook shrimp until just pink on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes (do not overcook). Transfer to a plate.

Add remaining tablespoon oil and sausage to pan; cook over medium-high heat until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and rice; cook, stirring to coat, until rice is translucent, 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in paprika, turmeric, tomatoes and broth, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until rice is tender and has absorbed almost all liquid, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in peas; cook 1 minute. Stir in cooked shrimp and serve immediately with bread, parsley and lemon on the side.



Chocolate Truffles

8 ounces 60 percent chocolate

½ cup heavy cream

For coating: Cocoa powder, chocolate sprinkles, finely chopped pistachios

Finely chop the chocolate — a serrated knife will do this quickly and efficiently. Transfer the chocolate to a medium bowl.

Microwave the cream on high in an oven-safe cup or bowl until hot but not boiling, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Alternatively, heat the cream over low heat in a small saucepan until steaming.

Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk the cream and chocolate together until smooth and shiny.

Pour the ganache into a shallow pan or baking dish, such as an 8- by 8-inch baking dish. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Use a tablespoon to portion the ganache into 1-ounce portions (about 2 tablespoons each). Roll the balls between gloved hands until smooth and place on a plate. Refrigerate for a few minutes while preparing the coatings.

For best results, pour the coatings into small dishes or bowls. Dip and roll the truffles in the coatings. These truffles keep best in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.