Since Valentine's Day falls in the middle of the week this year, there's a pretty good chance you have a few other things vying for your attention. So if you don't have time to wrap your head around what you're cooking for dinner until, say, Valentine's Day afternoon, know you're going to be OK. Instead of rushing to find a last-minute restaurant reservation, head to the grocery store, pick up a couple of things to supplement what you probably already have in your pantry, and whip up this fast-and-fancy last-minute meal.
The Menu + A Few Tips
The secret to a successful last-minute Valentine's Day dinner is to embrace the fast and fancy while also leaning on a few store-bought conveniences. Centering the meal around pasta is a no-brainer since it's quick and easy, but adding a few fancy twists makes it a bit more special than your usual mid-week meal.
- Aperol Spritz
- Baked Ricotta with Lemon, Garlic & Chives
- Marinated Olives
- Brown Butter Parmesan Pasta
- Arugula & Fennel Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- Sour Cream and Berries Brûlée
What to Drink
An Aperol Spritz is the perfect choice, as it's a classic Italian cocktail that's quick to make, not too boozy, and sets the stage for the night. It's mild bitterness cuts the richness of the warm baked ricotta. Pick up some marinated olives and prosciutto to snack on while you get the pasta water boiling. For dinner, keep sipping that spritz or pop open a bottle of crisp white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.
What to Eat
A simple salad is really all any good pasta dish needs to round it out and make it dinner. This arugula and fennel salad is crisp, refreshing, and won't overpower the main attraction.
Add brown butter to any situation and you know things are going to be good. Here it transforms a plain ol' box of spaghetti into something that's nutty, complex, and luxurious — yet it still all comes together in just about 20 minutes with nothing but pantry staples. The finishing touch is the toasted panko topping, which is a bit more interesting than simply grated cheese and adds a nice bit of crunch with every twirl.
A sour cream and berry brûlée is a sweet-yet-not-too-heavy way to finish things off. Grab a container each of strawberries and raspberries, a tub of sour cream, and that brown sugar that's hiding in the back of your cabinet, toss them under the broiler, and in five minutes you've topped off one very fast-and-fancy Valentine's Day dinner.