Famed cartoonist Charles M. Schultz once said, "All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and we say you can have both. If you and your partner love food almost as much as you love each other, why not plan a delicious food-and-love-themed Valentine's Day? These suggestions for creative, romantic food setups will help:
Breakfast in Bed
Begin your romantic day with breakfast in bed and Nutella French toast with strawberries. Strawberries are rumored to have aphrodisiac properties, so they make an appropriate topping. To prepare this dish:
- Trim a handful of strawberries into heart-shaped halves, toss and coat them in lemon juice and sugar, then let them sit out at room temperature
- Spread a thick dollop of Nutella onto two slices of bread, dip it into a bath of whisked eggs and milk with a pinch of cinnamon and vanilla
- Cook each sandwich for one to two minutes
- Top them with your sweetened strawberries and a dusting of powdered sugar
To present this pretty palate-pleaser, arrange it on a serving trap complete with a single rose in a thin vase. Sprinkle some rose petals across the tray for added flare, then you're ready to (carefully) jump back into bed with your baby and enjoy.
A Light Lunch
After an indulgent breakfast, a light lunch is in order, so consider a fennel, radicchio and arugula salad. Arugula has been considered aphrodisiac for centuries due to its ability to reproduce and grow and its symbolic representation of "the seed."
To prepare this light and flavorful dish, you'll need arugula, a fennel bulb, two heads of radicchio, and a touch of mint leaves, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Then:
- Chop the fennel, halve it and slice thinly
- Combine the slices with the arugula, radicchio and greens
- Sprinkle the salad with the herbs
Before you serve this light lunch, cover the patio table with a white linen cloth and sprinkle it with tiny love notes on colored paper, so your amour will dine surrounded by phrases of love.
Dinner by Candlelight
Dinner is the most important meal of your Valentine's Day food fest, and presentation is everything. Cover the table with a lace cloth and line the head and foot with slender white candles. Add a beautiful bouquet of Valentine's Day flowers as the centerpiece—roses are the classic choice, but pink lilies or red and white tulips work just as well.
Appetizer: Whet your partner's appetite with a tasty serving of roasted artichokes. Artichokes have a long history of sexual connotation, beginning with the artichoke origin story in Greek mythology (wherein Zeus turned the lovely, mortal Cynara into an artichoke after she rejected his gift of immortality). Later, the artichoke became a more notorious sexual icon when well-known foodie and sexual conquistador Catherine de Medici brought the artichoke to France upon her marriage to Henry II. To prepare:
- Wash the artichokes and slice in half
- Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper
- Wrap them in foil and roast them at 425 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes
Entree: For a flavorful and unique dish, prepare pan-seared duck breast with blueberry sauce:
- Stove-top sear the breast and place them atop a bed of pancetta, wild mushrooms, bok choy and shallots
- Add a side of rosemary and thyme-roasted potatoes
Dessert by Starlight (or Couchside)
If weather permits, head outside to enjoy the night sky. Of course, if you're in snow country, skip the frigid temps and have dessert snuggling on the couch. Chocolate-dipped mint leaves will provide a refreshing, palate-cleansing conclusion to your day of romantic food. To make:
- Dip the thickest, sturdiest mint leaves you can find into melted chocolate
- Freeze them on a baking sheet for 30 minutes
Present them on a chilled plate and enjoy, knowing you have the two most important things in the world: love and food.