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12 Easy, Elegant Dinner Recipes for Valentine’s Day

By Summer Rylander
January 26, 2024
Image credit: This Healthy Table

Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants — so naturally they take the opportunity to offer fancy prix fixe menus and bump up prices. This year, instead of fussing over reservations and paying that premium, we suggest enjoying a quiet, relaxed Valentine’s Day at home, including one or a few of these healthy yet elegant dinner recipes. You’ll save money and time, you’ll know exactly what’s going into your food, and you won’t get rushed out so the next couple can take your table.

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1. Velvety Beetroot Soup

Velvety Beetroot Soup

Courtesy of Downshiftology

Are we really opening our Valentine’s Day dinner suggestions with a soup that’s color-matched to the holiday? We sure are: This lovely beet soup not only makes for an impressive presentation with its vibrant pink-red hue, it also has a smooth and silky texture. Beets are nutrient-packed powerhouses and their earthy flavor provides a versatile canvas. On a regular weeknight, we’d top this soup with lots of freshly cracked black pepper and serve it with a big, herbaceous salad — but since this is Valentine’s Day, serve it as a first course before a citrusy orange-glazed salmon to contrast with the rich beets.

Try the recipe from Downshiftology.

2. Pan-Seared Duck Breast

pan seared duck breast

Courtesy of Omnivore’s Cookbook

We don’t usually cook duck at home, which is why it feels like a luxurious choice for Valentine’s Day. In this version, sake, soy sauce, and Sichuan peppercorn serve as a flavorful marinade for the duck, pairing nicely with a bright sauce made of persimmon and grapefruit. If you can’t find persimmons, try swapping in finely diced plums. And since we know duck isn’t everyone’s favorite, feel free to swap in chicken — the thighs will be juicier, but breasts will definitely work if you prefer a leaner cut.

Try the recipe from Omnivore’s Cookbook.

3. Roasted Chicken with Lemon

Roasted Chicken with Lemon

Courtesy of FamilyStyleFood

Roast chicken is one of those unicorns: Simple to prepare, economical, yet also so impressive. We love a classic lemon roast chicken with garlic, but feel free to use your own favorite herbs and spices. Tuck sliced onions and a few quartered baby potatoes around the chicken before it goes in the oven, and you’ve got a luscious one-pan dinner fit for a cozy celebration.

Try the recipe from FamilyStyleFood.

4. Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Courtesy of Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen

If you’ve never roasted a whole cauliflower before, you’re in for a treat. This works much the same as roasting a chicken: just season to your liking and pop it in the oven. We like this recipe’s use of a vegetable stock-based “gravy” to ensure lots of flavor gets into all the nooks and crannies. To make this a complete meal, we’d sauté sliced mushrooms and shallots while the cauliflower roasts and serve with a crunchy salad of romaine, apple, and sliced almonds.

Try the recipe from Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen.

5. Honey Mustard Salmon

Honey Mustard Salmon

Courtesy of Gimme Some Oven

Salmon may be a healthy weeknight staple, but its versatility means you can always jazz it up to suit the occasion. For a special Valentine’s Day dinner, we’d go for an easy oven-roasted honey mustard salmon. Pair it with garlicky green beans, crisp snap peas, or even a butternut squash mash for a restaurant-worthy meal.

Try the recipe from Gimme Some Oven.

6. Steak Salad

Steak Salad

Courtesy of Healthy Fitness Meals

A good steak is a classic Valentine’s Day dinner option, and we love to match it with a healthy-but-hearty salad. If you’re not into blue cheese, crumbled feta or soft goat cheese would also work well here — or you can leave out the cheese entirely, if you prefer. While the steak soaks in its marinade, why quick-pickle those red onions? Combine half of a thinly sliced onion with a tablespoon or two of rice wine or apple cider vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar, and a couple pinches of salt, then shake vigorously and leave to stand for about 20 minutes.

Try the recipe from Healthy Fitness Meals.

7. Coconut-Crusted Cod

Coconut Crusted Cod

Courtesy of Kitchen Swagger

Flaky white fish is always a crowd pleaser, and we love this dressed-up version for Valentine’s Day that’s jazzed up with panko crumbs and shredded coconut. It’s a delightfully crunchy, healthy meal for two that comes together in about half an hour. Roasted sweet potatoes or a bright slaw would be a perfect match with the coconut fish.

Try the recipe from Kitchen Swagger.

8. Gnocchi with Chorizo

Gnocchi with Chorizo

Courtesy of Hint of Healthy

Sausage isn’t an everyday food for us, but Valentine’s Day is a perfect special occasion to enjoy it. This recipe does a great job of making an indulgent dish a little healthier thanks to the incorporation of fresh spinach, garlic, and tomatoes. You can make your own gnocchi, or use store-bought — personally, we love cauliflower gnocchi.

Try the recipe from Hint of Healthy.

9. Mushroom Barley Bowls

Mushroom Barley Bowls

Courtesy of Slender Kitchen

At first glance, a grain bowl may not seem like the most romantic dinner for two. But it is when you imagine cozying up on the couch and watching a movie together while eating it. We’re here for it, and you will be, too, once you taste the combination of earthy mushrooms, nutty barley, and lots of herbs. We’d for sure top this dish with sliced avocado and maybe even a fried egg.

Try the recipe from Slender Kitchen.

10. Beef Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon

Courtesy of The Recipe Critic

This recipe for beef bourguignon calls for using the slow cooker, which — though it does require a bit of forethought — means your Valentine’s Day dinner can come together mostly hands-off. Don’t skip searing the beef before putting it in the cooker, though, since this step adds crucial base flavor. No slow cooker? You can make this dish in a Dutch oven with your conventional oven tuned to a low temperature. Bonus: This dish will make your house smell so good. Toss a salad and serve some rice or mashed cauliflower on the side.

Try the recipe from The Recipe Critic.

11. Pan-Seared Scallops with Edamame

scallops with edamame

Courtesy of This Healthy Table

Pan-seared scallops are a treat when properly cooked, and pairing them with peas and edamame is a great way to enjoy a healthful-meets-indulgent romantic dinner. To get that crucial sear on the scallops, make sure your pan is super hot.

Try the recipe from This Healthy Table.

12. Cauliflower Steak with Walnut Pesto

Cauliflower Steak with Walnut Pesto

Courtesy of The Modern Proper

Cauliflower “steaks” make for a beautiful presentation for a vegetable-forward meal. Plus, cutting thick slabs of cauliflower and roasting, grilling, or air-frying yields a tender vegetable with just the right amount of crispy bits along the edges. We’re very into the walnut-kale pesto this recipe suggests, but blitzing some roasted red peppers with a spoonful of cashew butter, a little olive oil, and a handful of sliced almonds would also make a perfect sauce for your Valentine’s Day cauli-steaks.

Try the recipe from The Moder Proper.

Read next: 5 Trader Joe’s Frozen Foods Perfect for Valentine’s Day at Home

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