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It’s the Day Before Valentine’s Day, Here’s What You Need to Make These Last Minute Dinner Recipes

Your ultimate guide to cooking a full proof Valentine’s Day dinner that is big on flavour if you’re small on time

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By House & Garden South Africa | February 13, 2024 | Recipes

It’s February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day and it’s too late to make a dinner reservation. The next best thing (and by that we mean actually better than going out), is to visit the supermarket in search of the best ingredients for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at home.

As much as restaurants pull out all the stops for Valentine’s Day like specially curated menus, specials for two, and romantic wine offerings, there is no gesture more romantic than cooking for someone you love [to enjoy a meal with].

This Valentine’s Day, all roads lead to your kitchen where alcohol is cheaper, you control the playlist, and you can actually here your date. This Valentine’s Day you’re staying in. You’re cooking. And it’s going to be great.

For Starters: Roast Feta with Grapes and Olives

With roast feta in your Valentine’s Day dinner repertoire, a baked bree doesn’t stand a chance.

This roasted feta with grapes and olives is an oven-to-table affair: In the pan it's baked in, lop up a jagged piece of feta, crisp on top and silky-warm inside; a juicy grape; and a meaty olive, all draped in a spiced oil. You could embellish further with nuts or honey or lemon zest, or dig in just as it is, friends hovering nearby for their turn.

See the recipe here: Roast Feta with Grapes and Olives

Drinks: A Sensual Bottle of South African Red Wine

One of the best way to top off the meal is with a specially-selected bottle of wine. While wines can range in price and complexity it is important to understand your and your partner’s palette and budget for a more special than usual bottle of wine.

For your Valentine’s Day dinner at home, we recommend Dornier’s Siren Syrah 2018. Follow the alluring call of the siren’s song towards warm notes of wild herbs, ripe fruits and violets that awaken and excite. At R201 a bottle, this is a small luxury that is sure to add a sensual layer of indulgence to your Valentine’s Day dinner plans.

Main Course: Honey Citrus Chicken Thighs

Honey Citrus Chicken Thighs. Image: Supplied.

Chicken thighs are such a forgiving piece of meat. Overcook them and they remain loyally succulent. Even reheated, they deliver on the promise of juiciness and flavour. That's why they are great to turn to when you don't have the patience for worrying over exacting instructions at the stove.

Pair the thighs with this you-can't-mess-it-up honey citrus sauce and you've got a winning combination for an easy, yet impressive dinner on a harried evening.

See the recipe here: Honey Citrus Chicken Thighs

For the Sides: Creamy Mashed Potatoes Plus a Simple Salad

Creamy Mashed Potatoes. Image via Pexels.

We’re ready to declare that this mashed potatoes recipe produces the fluffiest and creamiest side dish around. Opt for multi-purpose or floury potatoes (never red potatoes), which are the best varieties for mashing, and have a rich buttery flavor and creamy mouthfeel.

The key is to not waterlog the spuds: Boil potatoes over low heat in well-salted water with their skins on, which helps them absorb less moisture, yielding a silky texture, not a gummy or gluey one.

See the recipe here: Ultra Creamy Mashed Potatoes

To accompany the starch, a simple leafy salad will suffice. Try this super easy Caesar salad, sans the roast chicken.

See the recipe here: Super Easy Roast Chicken Caeser Salad

For Dessert: Last Minute Espresso Chocolate Mousse

Last Minute Espresso Chocolate Mousse. Image via Pexels.

While this recipe is a fail-safe Valentine’s Day dessert, we won’t judge if you opt for store-bought chocolate mousse after cooking up a tiny dinner storm. But it will impress your date that you went all the way with your Valentine’s Day menu.

Simply put, it comes together with classic ingredients like heavy cream, egg yolks, sugar semisweet chocolate and espresso, then you really only need to chill it for 20 minutes.

See the recipe here: Last Minute Espresso Chocolate Mousse