Baked Fish & Arugula Salad: Menu for a Spontaneous Romantic Date Night

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This has felt like an unusually busy spring, and I'm sitting here struggling to remember the last time my husband and I actually had ourselves a real date. We'll both be at home tonight without a thing on the calendar, so I'm thinking of surprising him with a spontaneous date night. Here's what is on the menu!

Simple Arugula Salad

The Scene:

This night is all about you and your special someone. I advise making it a bit of a surprise, as I feel that every relationship could use a bit of mystery now and then. Plug in the twinkly lights and meet your lady or fella at the door with gin gimlet in hand — these are excellent first steps to a spontaneous romantic evening.

Warm Fudgy Pudding Cake

Making It Happen:

Easy and elegant are the keywords to this dinner party for two. Pick the up the fish, the arugula, cheese and crackers, and any other missing ingredients on your way home from work. I've gotten in the habit of keeping a batch of no-knead bread dough in my fridge to pull from throughout the week, so focaccia is a simple as pulling some out and patting it into a pan. If you're not a bread nerd like me, add pizza dough to your grocery list — it works just as well as homemade dough for a recipe like this one.

Start with gin gimlets. My husband and I don't usually drink very much during the week so a classic cocktail first thing in the evening already starts to feel special! Set out some cheese and crackers to nibble while you pull dinner together.

The fish and the focaccia bake at close to the same temperature and for around the same time. Let the focaccia rise while the oven is warming and you prep the fish packets. Cook both the fish and the bread at 400°F (the temperature for the fish) and know that the focaccia might take a few minutes longer than the recipe says to become crisp and golden.

While the fish and focaccia are baking, toss the salad and prep the ingredients for the gooey pudding cake. This easy retro dessert is a favorite around my house — it's not the fanciest dessert, perhaps, but it feels fun and indulgent on a night like this one.

When you take the fish and focaccia out of the oven, lower the heat to 375°F and bake the pudding cake while you eat. Don't forget to set the timer on this one — though your nose will likely tell you when it's done!

With that, you can settle down at the table, light a few candles, and have yourselves a real conversation. Date night WIN!

Sound like a doable date night? I think so! 

What other quick but elegant meals do you like for spontaneous date nights like this?

This post was requested by stefica01 for Reader Request Week 2013.

(Images: See linked posts)

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