Valentine's Day

A Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Menu You Still Have Time To Make

updated Feb 8, 2022
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Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday this year and it’s the day after the Super Bowl, which means there’s a pretty good chance you have a few other things vying for your attention besides spending 20 hours putting together show-stopping romantic meal. 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. We’ve even included a timeline to ensure dinner runs as smoothly as possible.

Kitchn’s Guide to a Successful Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Dinner

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 nightly meal.

(Image credit: Sara Kate Gillingham)

Before Dinner: Aperol Spritz & Salty Snacks

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. 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.

Get the recipe: Aperol Spritz

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

The Main Dish: Brown Butter Parmesan Pasta

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.

Get the recipe: Brown Butter Parmesan Pasta

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

On the Side: Arugula & Fennel Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

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.

Get the recipe: Arugula & Fennel Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Credit: Joe Lingeman

For Dessert: Sour Cream and Berry Brûlée

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.

Get the recipe: Sour Cream and Berry Brûlée

Your Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Dinner Timeline

Since easy is the name of the game here, this entire dinner comes together soon before you’d like to eat.

An Hour Before Dinner

  • Stir up the cocktails and lay out the snacks while you bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta.

30 Minutes Before Dinner

After Dinner