Date night on valentines day can be a lot of pressure. Whether you’re married or just dating, it can be an evening that feels forced. There you are staring at the prixe fixe menu, you have waited forever for your table, the heart shaped confetti glimmering and scattered around your white tablecloth, the silly food pairings that make everything just sooooo valentine-sy… Take all of that and then throw in the fact that you might have kids at home, a babysitter to pay, and your date nights are probably few and far between anyway.

Guess what? You don’t need to spend that precious free time with your mate elbowing for reservations in a packed restaurant adorned with goofy hearts and cheap bubbly champagne everywhere.

Valentines day in our house is a date night IN. A warm special evening in our own kitchen. While it may take a little extra effort and planning, spending time cooking, sharing and enjoying a glass (or two) of red wine together can be a wonderful evening.  Maybe you make a special playlist or put someone is in charge of a surprise dessert?

Below is a three-course Valentines Day inspired menu for two. It’s adapted from some of my own recipes and other favorites out there. The ingredients are rich in heart healthy foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids and chock full of good nutrients for cardiovascular health. Something that might just keep that blood pumping with a little extra fuel for a cold February night. Enjoy!

course one: valentines day salad

  • large bunch of arugula
  • 4 to 5 strawberries
  • handful of pomegranate seeds (reserve some for sprinkling on top of salad after it is dressed)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • fennel bulb, sliced thin
  • sea salt (pinch to taste)
  • hard goat cheese, shaved

balsamic dressing with pomegranates

  • 4 tbls olive oil
  • 2 tbls balsamic vinegar
  • 2 to 3 tbls pomegranate seeds
  • 1 tsp agave or honey

In a bowl combine the veggies, add pomegranate seeds, sea salt, and lemon juice. toss with your hands, lightly. For the dressing: combine all ingredients in a blender including the pomegranate seeds. blend until smooth and then strain using a mesh strainer. add about 2 to 2 1/5 tablespoons of this dressing to your salad and reserve the rest for another salad.

course two: sweet and juicy mustard salmon with lemon fingerling potatoes and quick ginger spinach

salmon

  • 2 1lb filets of wild alaskan salmon or wild sockeye salmon
  • 1/2 cup of greek yogurt
  • 1 to 1.5 tbls whole grain dijon mustard
  • drizzle of honey
  • chopped fresh dill

creamy mustard sauce

  • 1/2 cup of greek yogurt
  • honey
  • fresh dill
  • grainy mustard

Whisk healthy drizzle of honey into 1/2 cup of greek yogurt. Add fresh chopped dill and at least 1 tbls of grainy mustard bake until it’s delicately cooked – overcooked salmon can get flaky and dry.

Preheat oven temperature to 350F. Line a baking pan with foil and lightly grease with olive oil. Cut 2 1lb salmon fillets in half (if not already), lightly brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Brush with creamy mustard sauce. Bake for 20 minutes – no more! Fish should gently flake with a fork

lemon fingerling potatoes

  • 1/2 lbls fingerling potatoes (russian bananas are delicious)
  • 1/2 tbls of coarse sea salt (additional 1/2 tsp to taste)
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbls dry white wine, sauvignon blanc works well
  • 1/2 tbls thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tbls unsalted butter
  • 2 tblsp fresh lemon juice
  • freshly ground pepper

Cover potatoes with water in a pan add 1/2 tbls of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes and half lengthwise. Heat oil i a large skillet over medium heat. add shallot and garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add potatoes, cut sides down and cook until golden brown (about 10 minutes). Stir in stock, wine, more salt to taste and cook until liquid is reduced by a third, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat add thyme and butter and stir until butter has melted. add lemon juice, salt and pepper

ginger spinach

  • 1 to 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • 4 crosswise slices of fresh ginger
  • 1 fresh green chile
  • 1 lb of spinach, washed and dried with tough stems removed

Heat oil in a large wok or skillet over medium high heat. Season oil with salt and add ginger and chile. When ginger starts to sizzle add spinach to skillet and toss with tongs (helps to evenly distribute the flavor) until spinach is tender and wilted, 1 to 2 minutes and serve.

course three: dessert! dark chocolate, fresh berries and more red wine!