Romantic Dinner A Deux

A delicious meal perfect for Valentine?s Day.
There’s no more certain way to win over a loved one than with a delicious Valentine’s Day dinner. That’s why we came up with this fabulous menu. It’s sure to delight and show that special someone in your life just how much you care. Valentine’s Day is also more fun when it’s not a lot of work, so these romantic recipes have steps that can be prepared ahead of time. So whether you’re cooking for your spouse, significant other or a special friend, you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time setting—and enjoying—the mood.

Red Pepper-Walnut Pâte
Serves 4

This rich and flavorful pâte is great used as a spread for crostini or bruschetta.

  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
 

1. Roast bell peppers over open flame or under broiler, turning frequently, until skin is blackened on all sides. Place in paper bag, seal bag and let stand 5 minutes. Remove from bag and scrape charred skin from peppers. Remove stems and seeds; coarsely chop peppers and set aside.
2. In medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. In food processor, combine onion mixture, reserved roasted pepper, walnuts, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth. Transfer to bowl, and chill before serving.

PER SERVING: 290 CAL; 6 G PROT; 26 G TOTAL FAT (3 SAT. FAT); 12 G CARB.; 0 MG CHOL; 4 MG SOD.; 4 G FIBER

Ginger-Sesame-Glazed Portobello Steaks
Serves 4

An aromatic marinade adds complexity to these mushrooms, which resemble flank steak when sliced at an angle.

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbs. tahini
  • 1/2 cup tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • 3 Tbs. white wine
  • 4 large portobello caps
  • 1 Tbs. peanut oil
 

1. In small bowl, combine garlic, ginger and tahini. Stir in tamari, sesame oil, sugar and wine until well blended.
2. Put mushroom caps in shallow bowl. Add tamari mixture, turning to coat mushrooms and let stand 15 to 30 minutes, turning once.
3. In large skillet, heat peanut oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms (reserve marinade) and cook, turning once, until browned and slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
4. Cut each mushroom on a slight angle into 1/4-inch-thick slices. In small saucepan, heat reserved marinade.
5. To serve, spoon hot mashed potatoes on serving plates. Fan out mushroom slices over potatoes and lightly drizzle with marinade.

PER SERVING: 292 CAL; 9 G PROT; 23 G TOTAL FAT (3 SAT. FAT); 11 G CARB.; 0 MG CHOL; 1027 MG SOD.; 5 G FIBER

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4

The subtle heat of wasabi, also known as Japanese horseradish, complemented by a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, lends an element of surprise to these creamy East-West mashers. Wasabi powder can be found in Asian markets and well-stocked supermarkets.

  • 2 lbs. Yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 Tbs. wasabi powder
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup plain soy milk, warmed
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
 

1. Quarter potatoes and place in large saucepan with enough cold water to cover, and bring to a boil. Continue boiling until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.
2. In small bowl, combine wasabi powder and 2 Tbs. water to make a thick paste.
3. Drain potatoes, and mash. Stir in wasabi paste, soy milk, oil and salt to taste, mixing until smooth. Serve hot.

PER SERVING: 226 CAL; 4G PROT; 6G TOTAL FAT (1G SAT. FAT); 40G CARB; 0 CHOL; 13MG SOD; 4G FIBER

Total Chocolate Eclipse Cake
Serves 12

The rich flavor of chocolate eclipses the fact that no eggs, butter or refined sugars are used to make this dense, fudgy confection. Flaxseeds are available at natural food stores.

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 Tbs. flaxseeds
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates, soaked in 1 cup hot water for 30 minutes
  • 6 oz. extra-firm silken tofu
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup or other natural liquid sweetener
  • 1 Tbs. corn oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  •  
  • Frosting
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 6 oz. extra-firm silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
 

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and coat with flour, tapping out excess flour.
2. In large bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda.
3. In food processor or blender, grind flaxseeds to fine powder. Add 1/2 cup
water and process until thick and frothy, about 30 seconds. Add dates and their soaking liquid, tofu, maple syrup, oil and vanilla, and process until smooth. Transfer mixture to large bowl.
4. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients, blending until smooth, Divide the batter evenly between prepared pans.
5. Bake until cakes spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack 10 minutes; then invert onto wire racks, remove pans, and cool completely.
6. Make frosting: In top of double-boiler set over simmering (not boiling) water, melt chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove from water and set aside.
7. In food processor or blender, finely grind cashews. Add 1/3 cup water and blend until smooth. Add tofu, maple syrup and vanilla, and process until smooth. Add melted chocolate and process until smooth. Transfer to medium bowl and refrigerate until chilled.
8. To frost cake, spread about 2/3 cup frosting over top of one layer. Cover with second layer and spread top and sides with remaining frosting. Cut into wedges and serve.

PER SERVING: 319 CAL; 7 G PROT; 10 G TOTAL FAT (4 SAT. FAT); 55 G CARB.; 0 MG CHOL; 229 MG SOD.; 4 G FIBER

Recipes reprinted from The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook by Robin Robertson, Copyright 2001, (Harvard Common Press, March 2002).

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