Looking to impress this Valentine's Day? These simple, but delicious, date night recipes are the perfect balance of flavours and are so quick to put together you'll be the champion of romance. Go all out and treat your other half to a three course home cooked meal.
We've pulled together three perfect date night recipes for a winning menu. Starting with a sweet, simple salad recipe, a silky smooth easy 'date night pasta' main and a decadent dessert to delight your taste buds, date night cooking has never been easier.
We've even added in a little digestif to help it all go down easily...
Starter: Roast Peach & Prosciutto Salad
4 peach halves (from a tin)
125g mozzarella pearls
4 slices prosciutto
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Basil (hand torn)
1) Heat up a griddle pan and get it smoking. Place peaches cut side up on the griddle and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cook evenly on both sides until charred and sticky.
2) In a bowl whisk together the juice of half of lemon and three times as much olive oil, basil, salt and pepper to make a dressing.
3) Place rocket, mozzarella pearly and 2 slices of prosciutto on each plate, adding two peach halves at the end. Pour over salad dressing, sprinkle the basil over and serve.
Entrée: Butternut Squash & Pancetta Cavatappi
75g Pancetta or lardons
1/2 fresh red chilli
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked
650g Butternut squash
500ml vegetable stock
400g cavatappi or Penne
Fresh, cracked black pepper
1) Fry the pancetta in a large frying pan for a couple of minutes, before adding the chopped shallots, chilli and rosemary leaves and sautee for a few minutes.
2) In the meantime, chop the butternut squash into 1cm chunks, adding to the pan when prepared. Cook all the ingredients together for a further 2-3 minutes. Pour over the stock, bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.
3) Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water until it is still al dente - perhaps 5 minutes - as the pasta will continue to cook when added to the sauce. Make sure to keep some of the cooking water when you drain the pasta. Add the penne to the sauce.
4) Stirring gently, allow the pasta to be coated in the sauce, cooking for 2-3 minutes longer to soften. Add some of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce if necessary. Finely grate in the parmesan and stir in until the sauce becomes creamy. Serve with a twist of black pepper and an extra grating of parmesan.
Dessert: Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango and Passion fruit Coulis
1 ½ Sheets of gelatine
100ml Single cream
130ml Coconut milk
50g Icing sugar
½ Ripe mango
1 Ripe passion fruit
50ml orange juice
Zest of a quarter lime
2 tsp flaked coconut (lightly toasted)
1) Grease two small non-metallic ramekins and set aside.
2) In a bowl soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes, lift out and squeeze the liquid out.
3) In a pan, pour the coconut milk, cream and half the icing sugar, cook on a medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the sugar and gelatine are fully dissolved. Take off the heat and cool for 10 minutes. Pour the mixture in the ramekins and leave to set in the fridge for 4 hours or more.
4) Take the flesh out of the mango and the passion fruit and put them in a food processor along with the lime zest and remaining icing sugar and orange juice. Blend until smooth and pureed, then pass through a fine sieve. Once set, take the ramekins out of the fridge and turn the puddings over on to serving dishes, top with the toasted coconut and coulis.
Digestif: Espresso Martini
Two big handfuls of ice – bagged or machine made ice is best
100ml Kahlua - Tia Maria or other coffee liqueur can be used, but Kahlua is our favourite
50ml Vodka – We like Finalndia or Stolichnaya, but any better quality vodka will do
100ml Fresh Espresso
1) Grab your cocktail shaker and place in the ingredients in the order shown above, the coffee has to go in last otherwise it will melt the ice and dilute the drink and we’ll lose some of that punchy flavour.
2) Pop the lid on and get shaking! You want to go for at least 20 seconds, the longer you shake, the better a crema (the froth) you’ll get as the ice chips away at itself in the shaker.
3) When you’ve given the cocktail a robust shake, grab some chilled martini glasses and using your cocktail strainer, divide the mixture between the glasses.
4) Decorate with 3 of the leftover coffee beans per glass and you should have the perfect, flavour-filled, espresso martini.
Whatever you get up to, whether you're sharing the day with a partner, friends or family, or enjoying some 'me time', have a love-filled Valentine's Day.