15 ridiculously easy Valentine’s Day recipes and ingredients (2024)

Lead, don’t follow…

Plan ahead where you can - you don’t want to be that person in the supermarket (the one looking frazzled as they scan the empty shelves at 6pm on the 14th Feb!). Shop smart and shop early - just a couple of days, if you can - or befriend your local butcher/fishmonger and put in an advance order, so you’re guaranteed to get what you want on the day in question.

Regardless of your prowess in the kitchen, if you’re looking to impress, rather than navigating complex recipes that require tonnes of ingredients, may I suggest it’s more sensible to buy simple, inherently delicious things that are the best quality you can afford? Anything that screams ‘deluxe’ but actually requires minimal prep will equal less time in the kitchen, and more time enjoying the company of your loved one…

A glamorously gorgeous starter

A simple yet swift bite could be a handsome plate of roughly torn buffalo mozzarella and soft parma ham, or a gleaming, effulgent burrata, celebratorily drizzled with truffle oil. If you’re happy to put in the time, these bruschetta riff off the same idea, and can be customised with any antipasti you fancy.

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Bring the bar to you

Mixed drinks are a pain to create for a crowd, so Valentine’s day is the perfect excuse to get your co*cktail shaker out, and you don’t have to get too technical. Perk yourself up after a hard day with a Honeyed Espresso Martini - shake a couple of shots each of espresso, vodka and kahlua with 1tbsp runny honey and a handful of ice until the outside of the shaker feels too cold to handle. Strain into two martini glasses and drink up.

No co*cktail shaker? These prettily pink drinks are a cinch to stir together, and you can switch them up by using your favourite fruity boozes, liqueurs and garnish combo. Peach schnapps and a passion fruit liqueur like Passoa would be a fitting swap.

Get a little shellfish

No need to grapple with raw specimens - you can find fantastically succulent, ready-cooked seafood from supermarkets and fishmongers. It doesn’t take a lot of time to pop it on a plate, but if you’re cash rich and time poor, the latter will sometimes even put together an artfully arranged platter of fruit de mer for you, dressed to perfection - no elbow grease required.

If you’re in the mood to don your apron, a pre-cooked lobster is one of the most extravagant treats you can eat, and thankfully needs very little else to make it sing. Purchase it from a reputable source and devour cold, with cayenne-dusted mayo for dipping, or melt a generous amount of salted butter in a pan, add a clove of crushed garlic, a little finely chopped parsley and a pinch of dried chilli flakes if you like things spicy. Arrange halved cooked lobsters on a baking tray, spoon over the butter, then warm under a hot grill for 5min or until piping hot and serve with some slices of crisply toasted fresh baguette.

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Pasta perfection

The beauty of pasta is that you can make the most decadent of dishes with utterly basic ingredients. For the ultimate pasto per due, pronto, a classic carbonara is unbeatable. Fry a couple of packs of headily aromatic ready-chopped pancetta, boil 150g posh pasta (egg tagliatelle or pappardelle works perfectly), then beat two eggs and two egg yolks (bonus point if you can get ones with richly coloured yolks) with a couple of large handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Add the drained pasta to the pancetta, remove from the heat and stir in the egg mixture until warmed through but still saucy. Tip on to one large warmed plate and share, Lady and The Tramp style.

For a vegetarian alternative, whip-up this restaurant-worthy vodka penne, adding a little Tabasco, celery salt and vegan Worcester sauce to mimic the gutsy flavours of a classic Bloody Mary.

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Steak your claim

The perennial favourite for push-the-boat-out dinners, steak sells out on V-day, so if you’re looking to make it for supper, buy it a few days before or order it from your butcher. Frying it to serve hot - with sides to sort - can be a little stressful, so my solution: ease the pressure and cook-up this far more relaxed steak tagliata. It gets cooked, rested, then sliced and dressed with herbs and oil and served at room temp with whatever side dishes you desire, so you can take your time. If rosemary and capers aren’t your thing, try a Thai twist and dress with a sprinkle of soy and fish sauce, a hearty handful of chopped coriander and some finely sliced red chilli.

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Just chill

I get it. Sometimes you do want to make a show of your culinary skills and put in the work, but hear me out: it doesn’t have to actually be on the night. Toil-away early, stash your hard-graft in the freezer, then whip it out on Valentine’s evening. Stuffed chicken breasts are ideal for this - they look supremely swizzy, and you can cook them straight from frozen. Switch up the stuffing and use sourdough for crumbs, prunes instead of apricots and prosciutto instead of pancetta, if you prefer.

Valentine’s day for veggies

Wrapping anything in pastry is an easy way to make a low effort/high impact main course. It’s especially useful for making vegetarian dishes more special. Whilst upon inspection, these beetroot wellingtons have a long cook time, but that’s because they’re made with raw beetroot. Speed things up by using pre-cooked vacuum-packed ones instead, adding some fresh thyme leaves in for an elegant touch, or make it suitable for vegans by using vegan cheese, pastry and a plant-based milk as a glaze.

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A bit on the side

Be clever and dish up your mains with a carb that doesn’t need cooking. Push the boat out and buy a freshly-baked loaf of artisan bread from a baker, or the most handmade version your supermarket has to offer. Make a quick flavoured butter to show you’ve put in some thought though: beat a chunk of unsalted butter with some flaked sea salt and freshly chopped chives. Make sure to keep it at room temperature so it stays softly spreadable. Alternatively, a whipped brown butter will show off your chef skills.

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For an easy cooked accompaniment to steak, lobster or stuffed chicken, these three ingredient sweet potato fries are just the ticket. Make them fast by roasting a portion for two in an airfryer for 10-15min at 200C until golden, then sprinkle with a freshly chopped herb that works with whatever main you’re serving.

Desserts in a dash

It’s going to ruin the Val-day mood if after all your clever shortcuts, you then enslave yourself to the kitchen to make an elaborate pud. I’d advise picking a sweet treat that you have made in advance or at the very least, takes no time. Devised specifically for v-day, these recipes tick both boxes. You can quickly concoct these lemon and passion fruit pots or white chocolate espresso mousses either after dinner, or ideally make them in advance and chill until needed. In order to serve them faster, top the lemon puds with fresh berries instead of passion fruit, and dust the espresso pot with cocoa powder instead of the piped chocolate.

Share the love

There’s something incredibly seductive about serving up dessert in one dish for you both to partake in, and bonus: the time-consuming part of this classic creme brulee recipe can be made up to a day ahead.

Heat 100ml double cream and 100ml whole milk in a small pan until nearly boiling, then whip it off the heat. Whisk up 2 large egg yolks and 25g caster sugar in a medium heatproof bowl, then gradually whisk in the hot cream mixture until smooth. Strain it into a jug, stir in 1tsp of gloriously fragrant vanilla bean paste, then pour into an awaiting 400ml ovenproof dish. Set the dish on a baking tray and bake for 20-30min at 140°C (120°C fan) mark 1 until the custard is mostly set, yet retains a slight wobble. Set aside to cool, then chill for 4hr. When ready, scatter over 1tbsp demerara sugar, then grill on medium for 2-3min until the sugar has melted and caramelised to perfection. All you need to serve it with is two spoons.

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Know thineselves

Despite all our ideas, one thing to keep in mind is you and your partner - given the choice, what would you choose for dinner? If that’s beans on toast, so be it. The most important ingredient? Love.

Valentine's Day Main Course Recipes

15 ridiculously easy Valentine’s Day recipes and ingredients (7)

15 ridiculously easy Valentine’s Day recipes and ingredients (2024)
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