With the pandemic refusing to relent, this Valentine’s is likely to be much different than what you’re used to — especially if you usually go out with your other half for a fancy meal and drinks. And while you may not be able to visit your favourite vegan restaurant, you can still celebrate your love in the safety of your own home, making dinner together and trying your hand at recreating your favourite drinks. Here, we’ll go through some of the most romantic and easy-to-make recipes perfect for a three-course meal for two.
Your first course should be something small and tasty to get your taste buds excited for the main entrée. Popular appetizers include soups, salads, chips and dip, and even fried pickles. Whichever one you pick, make sure it’s simple to put together and not too heavy, otherwise you could spoil your appetite for the second course. Whip up an easy beet hummus for a special twist on the classic dip, with the deep red color in keeping with the Valentine’s theme. Alternatively, why not make a herby mushroom pâté ahead of time to serve with crackers or spread on top of sliced French baguette. However, be sure to keep these portions small, as you want to avoid filling up on bread.
Or, you could put together your own vegan twist on a charcuterie boards, creating an Instagrammable grazing platter for you to pick from, rather than having a set meal. A vegan charcuterie can include crackers, grapes, vegetable sticks (like carrots, celery, and peppers), dips and jams, nuts, and any vegan cheeses and deli meats you like. Traditional seitan slices work particularly well here. The beauty of a grazing board is that you can nibble on it over the course of a few hours, or to tide you over while you cook the main meal together.
Romantic main meals
Valentine’s day is your chance to either show off your culinary skills, or take the time to cook something delicious together. Take inspiration from Hollywood’s most romantic meals and cook a meal perfect for sharing, such as the famous spaghetti scene from The Lady and the Tramp. You might not think pasta is a vegan-friendly ingredient — and generally speaking, you’d be correct, as eggs are a key ingredient in fresh pasta. There are, however, vegan-friendly fresh pastas available, which Pasta Evangelists note is made from pasta bianca, or “white dough” that only uses flour and water. You could try making your own vegan pasta at home, or alternatively you can opt for dried pasta instead, which is usually made with semolina flour, water, and salt.
If you’re really wanting to wow your partner — and make something outside of your standard arsenal of recipes — try this homemade seitan steak. Just be aware that this can take a while to make, so if you want to spend as little time in the kitchen, it might be a good idea to prepare it the day before, then finishing it off by pan-searing on the day. Serve with a side of french fries, and a classic peppercorn sauce, made with dairy-free cream.
Finish off your meal with something decadent and sweet, like this incredible melt-in-the-middle salted chocolate fondant, best served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of thick vegan cream to complement the rich chocolate. Alternatively, buy a heart-shaped mould to shape any dessert, whether it’s to serve ice cream or to make heart-shaped cookies.
If you’re looking for something easy to put together, especially if you’ve planned a more complicated main meal, you could always opt for something simple like strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. These are incredibly easy to prepare, and can be made in the morning so there’s enough time for the chocolate to set.
Vegan wines and drinks
Treat yourselves to a nice bottle of vegan wine to complement your meal. Reds like Californian Pinot Noir pair well with tomato-based pasta dishes and seitan steaks, while a Sauvignon Blanc is more suited to lighter fare, such as a mushroom pâté or pan-seared vegetables.
Alternatively, pick up a bottle of vegan-friendly champagne or sparkling wine for the occasion, which pairs perfectly with a grazing board at the start of the evening, or as a palate cleanser between your main meal and dessert.