Don’t have much time to prepare your Valentine’s Day dinner, but still want to make something extra-special? We’ve got you covered with these fast yet fabulous dishes, guaranteed to make an impression.
From seafood to steak, you’ll find meat, fish and veggie options, plus two super speedy desserts to end the night in style. All these dishes serve two people and can be prepped, cooked and served in 20 minutes or less – meaning less time in the kitchen and more time with your date!
Ready in 10 mins…
1. Smoked salmon carbonara
- Cook 200g quick-cook spaghetti according to packet instructions. Meanwhile, melt 1 tsp butter in a small pan, add 1 crushed garlic clove and gently sizzle for 1 min. Remove from the heat.
- Lightly beat 150ml double cream, 2 eggs, the softened garlic and 1 ½ tbsp freshly grated Parmesan in a bowl. Stir in 120g smoked salmon trimmings.
- When the spaghetti is al dente, drain well and return to the pan. Add the salmon mixture with ½ small bunch snipped chives, then toss well so the heat from the pasta lightly thickens the sauce. Serve scattered with another 1 ½ tbsp Parmesan and plenty of black pepper.
Full recipe: Smoked salmon carbonara
2. 10-minute pad Thai
Serves 2 Prep 5 mins Cook 5 mins
- Take a small pack of coriander and separate the leaves from the stalks. Finely chop the stalks and roughly chop the leaves.
- Dry fry 200g raw prawns and the coriander stalks in a non-stick frying pan for 1-2 mins until the prawns are just pink.
- Add 2 x 200g packs straight-to-wok pad Thai noodles, 85g beansprouts, 1 beaten egg, the juice of 1 lime, 1 tbsp fish sauce and 2 tsp sugar. Quickly toss together for 1 min more until the egg is just cooked and everything is well mixed – you might want to use a pair of tongs to make this easier.
- Remove from the heat, mix in most of the coriander leaves, then divide between 2 bowls. Scatter with the remaining coriander and 1 tbsp roughly chopped roasted peanuts. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.
Full recipe: 10-minute pad Thai
Ready in 15 mins…
3. Spice-crusted tofu with kumquat radish salad
- Slice 200g firm tofu in half, wrap well in kitchen paper and put on a plate. Place a heavy frying pan on top to squeeze the water out of it. Change the paper a few times until the tofu feels dry, then cut into chunky slices.
- Mix together 2 tbsp sesame seeds, 1 tbsp Japanese shichimi togorashi spice mix and 1/2 tbsp cornflour in a bowl. Sprinkle over the tofu until well coated. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the dressing: 2 tbsp low-salt Japanese soy sauce; 2 tbsp Yuzu juice (or 1 tbsp each lime and grapefruit juice); 1 tsp golden caster sugar; 1 small finely diced shallot and 1 tsp grated ginger. Set aside.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil and heat 1 tbsp sesame oil and 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large frying pan. When the frying pan is very hot, add the tofu and fry for 1 min or so on each side until nicely browned. Repeat until you have done all the slices.
- When the water is boiling, cook 200g tenderstem broccoli and 100g sugar snap peas for 2-3 mins. Drain and divide between two large shallow bowls. Top with the tofu and drizzle over the dressing. Scatter 4 thinly sliced radishes, 2 finely chopped spring onions and 2 thinly sliced kumquats on top.
Full recipe: Spice-crusted tofu with kumquat radish salad
4. Prawn laksa curry bowl
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan and add 1 finely sliced red chilli. Cook for 1 min, then add 2 ½ tbsp Thai red curry paste, stir and cook for 1 min more. Dissolve 1 vegetable stock cube in a large jug in 700ml boiling water, then pour into the pan and stir to combine.
- Tip in 400ml can reduced fat coconut milk and bring to the boil. Add 2 tsp fish sauce and a little seasoning. Toss in 100g rice noodles and cook for a further 3-4 mins until softening.
- Squeeze in the juice of 1 lime, add 150g cooked king prawns and cook through until warm, about 2-3 mins. Scatter over a handful of roughly chopped coriander. Serve in bowls with extra coriander and a wedge of lime in each bowl for squeezing over.
Full recipe: Prawn laksa curry bowl
5. Salmon & spinach with tartare cream
- Heat 1 tsp sunflower or vegetable oil in a pan. Season 2 skinless salmon fillets on both sides, then fry for 4 mins each side until golden and the flesh flakes easily. Leave to rest on a plate.
- Tip a 250g bag spinach leaves into the hot pan, season well, then cover and leave to wilt for 1 min, stirring once or twice. Spoon the spinach onto plates, then top with the salmon.
- Gently heat 2 tbsp reduced-fat crème fraîche in the pan with a squeeze of lemon juice, 1 tsp drained capers and 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley, then season to taste. Be careful not to let it boil. Spoon the sauce over the fish, then serve with lemon wedges.
Full recipe: Salmon & spinach with tartare cream
Ready in 20 mins…
6. All-American T-bone
Serves 2 Prep 5 mins Cook 12 mins
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put an ovenproof griddle pan on a high heat. Season a 700g T-bone steak on both sides, then rub both sides with 2 bashed garlic cloves, ½ small pack thyme and ½ tbsp olive oil.
- Put the steak in the hot pan and char the underside for 2 mins or until griddle lines appear. Turn the steak over to brown the other side, rub the top with the thyme again, then lay the thyme and garlic on top of the meat.
- Once evenly browned all over with griddle lines, put the thyme and garlic to one side, hold the steak with a pair of tongs to cook its fatty side and render it down so it’s soft rather than gristly. This will take a few mins.
- Lay the steak flat again, put the thyme, garlic and 50g butter on top and transfer the pan to the oven to finish cooking for 4-5 mins, until the heat reaches 62-65C on a probe thermometer (or until cooked to your liking). Rest the meat for 5-6 mins. Serve on a board or large plate in the middle of the table with a sharp knife to share.
Full recipe: All-American T-bone
7. Ravioli with artichokes, leek & lemon
Serves 2 Prep 10 mins Cook 10 mins
- Drain a 280g jar artichoke antipasto, reserving 1 tbsp of the oil, then roughly chop the artichokes. Heat the oil from the artichokes in a large saucepan, then add 1 large finely sliced leek and 1 crushed garlic clove. Fry for 5 mins over a medium heat until the leek is soft.
- Stir in the artichokes, 3 tbsp cream cheese and the zest of 1 lemon, then heat through. Season to taste and add a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Meanwhile, cook a 250g pack of spinach and ricotta ravioli according to the pack instructions. Drain, add to the pan with the artichokes and cream cheese, and toss through. Serve topped with 2 large handfuls rocket and freshly grated Parmesan.
Full recipe: Ravioli with artichokes, leek & lemon
8. Steak with chimichurri sauce
- To make the chimichurri, blitz 1 small bunch roughly chopped parsley, ½ tsp fresh or dried oregano, 2 garlic cloves, 1 chopped shallot and ½ tsp chilli flakes in a food processor (or chop very finely by hand).
- Add 2 tbsp of olive oil, juice ½ lemon, 2 tsp red wine vinegar and some seasoning, and pulse to combine everything to a saucy consistency. Rub ½ tbsp olive oil and a little seasoning onto the steaks.
- Heat a griddle or frying pan and cook the steaks for 2-3 mins on each side or until done to your liking. Rest for a few mins, then spoon over the sauce and serve with fries and salad.
Full recipe: Steak with chimichurri sauce
And for dessert…
9. Sweetheart choc & hazelnut sandwiches
- Take 4 slices from a small sliced brioche loaf. Thickly spread 2 slices with 3 tbsp chocolate hazelnut spread, then top with the other two slices to make 2 sandwiches. Use a large heart-shaped cutter to cut the sandwiches into hearts.
- Whisk 1 large egg, 75ml whole milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tbsp caster sugar in a wide, shallow bowl. Tip 2 tbsp chopped toasted hazelnuts onto a plate. Dip the sandwiches into the egg mixture, leave for 1-2 mins each side to allow the brioche to soak up the liquid, then dip one side of each sandwich into the nuts.
- Heat 1 tbsp butter in a wide frying pan until melted and foaming. Add the sandwiches and cook for 1-2 mins each side until golden brown and puffed up. Dust with a little icing sugar and serve with ice cream and raspberries.
Full recipe: Sweetheart choc & hazelnut sandwiches
10. Manuka honey cheesecake with raspberries
- Sit 2 x 9cm metal rings on 2 small serving plates. Crush 4 lemon shortbread biscuits (about 85g) in a bag with a rolling pin, then divide between the rings, pressing down to form the base.
- Put 140g full-fat soft cheese in a bowl, then whisk together with 50ml double cream, 1 tbsp caster sugar and 2 tbsp Manuka honey until soft peaks form. Spoon the mixture into the rings, then spread the top flat. Pop in the fridge to chill.
- When ready to serve, crush a third of a 125g punnet of raspberries with 1 tsp Manuka honey, then gently fold in the rest. Using a blowtorch, warm around the edge of the ring and lift off – or use a knife to run around the inside of the ring, and lift off. Spoon over the raspberries and serve.
Full recipe: Manuka honey cheesecake with raspberries
Find more Valentine’s day recipes and inspiration here.