I am shocked when I remember the first night I cooked for my boyfriend. I had to stay at work longer than expected to complete an urgent project and then rushed to the grocery store to get ingredients for a simple recipe for a date that didn’t exist yet.
It was one of those weeks when I’d overwhelmed myself and forgot to take him (and a friend of his that I’d never met) out to dinner. If I had known back then that his love language is tacos, I would have just grabbed something light on the way home and played it safe. No Instead, this opportunity seemed high time to get some ambiguous white fish from the market that I had never done before and just get started.
Now we’re laughing at the time we all sat at the table and picked a tasteless piece of fish that was definitely undercooked. We ended up resorting to wine and leftover pasta, and while I haven’t impressed anyone, I will always look back on that night as one of the first times we truly bonded.
Aside from eating, the real purpose of cooking with the people we care about is to connect with each other and create memories.
After my unsuccessful trial run, I came across the perfect criteria for a great date night recipe. With many of us celebrating Valentine’s Day at home this year, the last thing we all need is a complicated recipe (or lack of it) to distract us from having a good time. Date night recipes should be relatively simple, fun, and feel like a step up from your regular week and night rotation.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best simple date recipes that feel chic but allow you to have fun in the kitchen without breaking a sweat. From Bolognese to lamb chops: season things with one of these simple date night recipes that feel special and taste delicious.
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Bottle of Braised Brisket Wine from The Defined Dish
One of my friends said this was “the best meal she’s ever had”. She recommends serving it over this creamy mushroom risotto for a chic, indulgent dinner that you won’t believe you made yourself.
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Vegetarian pasta Bolognese by Camille Styles
As one of Camille’s favorites, she compares this pasta to “a hug wrapped around every peg of your fork”. The fact that it’s a pantry that’s easy to reinvent with sauces, herbs, vegetables, and cheese makes it perfect for a date night at home.
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A date night dinner should be both calming and relatively easy to cook so that you can focus on having a good time with your partner. And the last thing we all need is something we need to worry about more, right? This simple photo is packed with colorful, healthy ingredients that are just as fun to arrange as to enjoy.
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Lamb meatballs in tomato sauce with fresh ricotta from Seamus Mullen
We trust every recipe from Chef Seamus Mullen. These lamb meatballs in tomato sauce won’t disappoint, especially when paired with roasted cauliflower or this zesty radish, fennel and grapefruit salad.
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Make breaded – everything is not a solo effort and is best done as a team. Serve this flavorful, crispy roast chicken over a bowl of pasta for a classic Italian feast.
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Milk-free, creamy butternut squash noodles with bacon and crispy sage from Camille Styles
Nothing says more about special occasions than creamy, pampering pasta, but bonus points if it is actually healthy. This dish is a healthier twist on the adult Mac’n cheese with a decadently dairy-free sauce over soft angel hair noodles.
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Whether it’s a first course or main course, this lobster ravioli is sure to steal the show. Believe it or not, this one comes together in less than 40 minutes and is surprisingly straightforward.
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Leaf pan halibut with Italian salsa verde and asparagus from The Defined Dish
If you’re looking for something lighter, a scaly white fish never disappoints. This half-cut sheet pan and Italian salsa verde sauce are a heavenly game that comes together with minimal effort.
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Brown Butter Scallops with Parmesan Risotto from Pinch Yum
While risotto may require extra attention, this recipe is well worth it. Plus, you’ll have more time to sip your wine and chat as you slowly stir this creamy delicacy. When you add those seared scallops at the end, you have a restaurant-worthy dish that’s perfect for a leisurely evening in.
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Dates filled with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon with honey from Half-Baked Harvest
This is one of my favorite starters for any special occasion. These bacon wrapped dates are crispy, sweet, decadent, and just to die for. They’re a fun starter to put together, cook, and enjoy while dinner is still in the works.
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Steak fries with tarragon aioli from The Defined Dish
You can sign me up for any date that involves chips. This healthy, home-made variant of a classic measure corresponds to the steak fries in every favorite French restaurant.
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Butternut Squash Pizza with Rocket & Almond Ricotta by Camille Styles
Pizza is a festive meal, pure and simple. There’s something about a good pizza that just keeps people together. This butternut squash pizza is savory and sweet, and deserves bonus points if it’s both gluten-free and dairy-free.
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Lasagna really is the ultimate in convenience food, and this recipe nails the vegetarian version. Cooking takes a while. So enjoy wine and snacks while soaking up the delicious aroma that fills your home while baking in the oven.
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Lime and chicken tacos with jicama, avocado and mint from Camille Styles
In my opinion, there is nothing more relaxed and fun than a taco night. Camille claims these lime and chicken tacos might be her last meal – they’re so good. Especially in combination with a homemade margarita.
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Simple breaded lamb chops with mint chimichurri from The Defined Dish
Lamb chops are a great meal for special occasions. While they can be a bit spoiled at the grocery store, the cooking is pretty foolproof. This dish comes together quickly and you will want to put this mint chimichurri sauce on anything, trust me.
What’s your favorite recipe for a date? Share the link with us below!