• Thu. May 30th, 2024

Romantic Meals In

photo of a pizza in the shape of a heart on a board

I personally am of the opinion that there is nothing nicer than someone cooking you a meal. It could be just a foil-wrapped sandwich for the library or a warm bowl of pasta, the wholesome affection always carries through. It is not only wildly romantic to have a meal-in but also cheaper and excludes the fuss of booking a decent place in November of last year. I am entirely sympathetic to the fact that cooking for a person or crowd can be one of the most stress-inducing things ever, especially on a day like Valentine’s Day, that places preemptive pressure on what activity you do and how well you do it. Let me reassure you that these recipes are a regular kitchen appearance and big crowd pleasers tested by an impatient, frantic, chaotic cook (yours truly). So here are two relatively affordable recipes designed to knock the socks off of your valentine’s, galentine’s, palentine’s, familytine’s, or a solotine’s  (with no one but you and an indulgent glass of wine) celebrations.

Courgette Pasta

This is really ideal for two people craving a hearty yet light meal, but can also be bulked up for a cosy dinner party. This recipe is the favourite of my dream man Stanley Tucci. Rumour has it, it is a dinner-party hit for him and wife Felicity. I put this recipe together after listening to the vague description of it via his appearance on Love Stories, a podcast by all-time favourite Dolly Alderton.  I know, that was a lot of name-dropping, pardon my pop-culture-friend-self.

Ingredients:

–          2 Courgettes

–          1o chonky basil leaves (freeze the remaining basil, you can also use dry basil leaves, I recommend using lesser and tasting as you go)

–          5 big spoons of olive oil

–          3 big spoons of parmesan

–          Pasta ( I like linguine or tagliatelle with this)

–          Salt from the sea and some pepper

Method:

1)      Cut the courgettes into discs as thick as an average bottle cap. Drizzle 3 spoons of olive oil onto a frying pan and cook the discs for 5 minutes on either side and transfer them to a bowl you have prepped. Depending on pan space, you probably will do this in batches.

2)     Now, while the courgettes are frying, you can prep the bowl by adding to it the remaining 2 spoons of olive oil and the basil all chopped up,

3)      Keep adding the cooked courgettes to this bowl and mix it with the basil, seal this and store it overnight in your fridge. Trust me the wait is worth it, I never knew courgette could be this powerful and rich in taste, it is magic.

4)     This way on Valentine’s all you need to do is boil your pasta, scoop a cup of pasta water for later and drain it. Add some olive oil to prevent it all from sticking to each other.

5)      While the pasta is boiling you can reheat on a pan, the gorgeous marinated courgettes from the fridge.

6)     Mix the pasta and the courgettes together, add a splash of the pasta water, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the parmesan. And there you have it, hearty, flavourful and a mildly rich romantic meal for you.

Romantic Risotto with Beetroot and Chilli 

Sugar, spice and all things nice. It’s what we all crave in a romantic partner. Fatefully, I will be getting the above from a bowl of risotto this Valentine’s. The earthiness of beets paired with the after-kick of chilli is something of an underrated combination, plus it is the most gorgeous and deep shade of magenta. I improved this recipe by browsing through the free pile of seasonal veg Hearty Squirrel had at their stall. If you are looking for organic, affordable, seasonal veg, this cooperative is helping you connect with ethical suppliers, isn’t that so cool!

You can get involved here: HEARTY SQUIRREL FOOD COOP – About Us (weebly.com)

Ingredients:

–          175g risotto rice

–          600ml stock (veg, chicken etc.)

–          100 ml white wine (non-alcoholic option: 100ml stock with a spoon of lemon/cider vinegar, does the same thing)

–          300g grated beets

–          1 juicy red chilli, finely chopped, bin/plant the seeds according to spice tolerance

–          1 garlic clove to play it safe, add 2 more cloves more if you or your date don’t care for garlic breath (a green flag)

–          Half a teaspoon of thyme

–          A spoon of lemon juice

–  A spoon of olive oil 

–          1 one finely chopped

– 4 spoons of parmesan 

–          Salt to taste

Method: 

  1. Cook the onions and beets in a pan with the olive oil for 10-15 minutes, till the beets go soft. Add in the garlic and chilli and saute for a minute. 
  2. Add your rice and fry it in the veg, till coated in pink throughout. 
  3. Pour your wine or non-alcoholic alternative and let it simmer for a minute or two.
  4. Add in half your stock and let the rice absorb this.
  5. From here on, you have to simultaneously stir and  ladle in stock water, one ladle’s worth at a time, cooking it till the rice is al dente. 
  6. Stir in the lemon juice, parmesan and thyme. Season till your heart’s content and serve with the remaining wine perhaps under a cozy candle light. 
  7. If you want to go a step further, I recommend adding flaked almonds on top, not necessary but is very fun (a lot like Valentine’s day I’d say) and making a lil heart with double cream (don’t use single cream like me, I am not very clever at all)

Image Credit: “Pizza on Valentine’s Day” by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

By Karishma Balasubramanian

Karishma Balasubramanian is a 4th year Finance and Business student who joined the paper in September 2019. She is currently the president and resident agony aunt of the paper, holding positions of treasurer and social secretary in previous years. She has a keen interest in lifestyle journalism and writes about life, love, skincare, fashion and held the position of lifestyle editor from November 2020 - March 2022.