Kiss in the kitchen on Valentine's Day

10 Recipes
Roasted fish with tomatoes and olives in a pan.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times; prop styling by Kate Parisian; food styling by Ben Mims)

Ten easy and impressive recipes for Valentine’s Day dinner


Some people love to go out for Valentine’s Day, some people like to stay home. I fall in the latter camp, and if you do, too, you may be looking for some ideas of what to put on the table for dinner.

It’s nice that this year Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday. For me, that means no after-work mad rush to make dinner. You can spend as much — or as little — of the day (and weekend) cooking as you like.

I tend to plan and make dessert first. Times cooking columnist Ben Mims has you covered there, with three delightful and decadent chocolate desserts that he has crafted specifically for this Valentine’s Day. All can be made the day before.


The recipes below can all be made in less than two hours, many in less than an hour and some in half an hour or less. Those that take longer do so because they include hands-off time; while the dish is cooking you can be free to set the table or relax with a cocktail. Just saying, this does not have to be hard or take the whole day.

Whether you want steak, seafood or something vegetarian, here are some options for festive meals that won’t leave you worn out and buried in dirty dishes before it’s time to sit down and eat.

You can make this flavor-packed complete entree in less than an hour, and if you don’t feel like dealing with the grill, you can make it stove top.


This salmon is all about texture: skin that shatters, flesh that melts in your mouth. The tangy vinaigrette adds a punch of flavor.


No-boil lasagna noodles (also available gluten-free) make composing this vegetarian dish a breeze.

Grilled Marinated Swordfish

Time25 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Simple. Elegant. Easy.

Roasted Branzino With Tomatoes and Olives

Time50 minutes
YieldsServes 2 to 4

The dramatic presentations sets a high expectation for flavor. Your expectation will likely be exceeded. It is also quick and easy to prepare. What could be bad?

Pomegranate-braised duck legs

Time1 hour 35 minutes
YieldsServes 2 to 4

Another exercise in texture here, but don’t be scared off by the time. You will be active for only about 35 minutes, some before and some after the duck roasts for an hour.

Paella with artichokes and mushrooms

Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsServes 6

I know, paella usually means labor-intensive. However, this vegetarian version has significantly fewer ingredients than classic paella and streamlines the process. You can prepare the dish to the halfway point earlier in the day and then finish it in a short amount of time when you’re ready to eat.

Half-Salted Steaks With Kale-Caper Sauce

Time30 minutes
YieldsServes 2 to 4

Why not learn a new technique for enhancing flavor while you’re at it? A delicious steak with a nutritious (and delicious) sauce in less than 30 minutes. Sounds like a pretty good deal.


Seared Scallops in Mediterranean Broth

Time20 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Mmmm ... scallops! The broth is steeped in flavors of the Mediterranean — saffron, olives and capers — and enhanced with orange zest and some chile flakes for a little heat. It is a fabulous backdrop for beautifully seared scallops.

Heirloom tomato bagna cauda

Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsServes 8

This can be a shared appetizer and also could accompany some simply grilled steak, fish and vegetables as a main course. The bagna cauda is intoxicating. You won’t want to stop eating it.