SangriaWhen cooking a romantic dinner for two, there are a ingredients with supposedly aphrodisiacal powers that you might have already known about (oysters, red wine? Duh!), but some you might never have guessed (chile peppers and asparagus? Really?!).
Here are some of my favorite get-you-in-the-mood recipes that you can easily whip up on a weeknight for your special Valentine:
Pomegranate Juice: Long considered a symbol of fertility (have you checked out all those SEEDS?), pomegranate's berry-like sweet-tart flavor is delicious in drinks like sangria and margaritas. Just make sure to cut that margarita recipe by half or...don't. We won't judge.
Related: Best Chocolates for Valentine's Day
Red Wine: Not just for drinking on Valentine's Day, red wine can be a star on the plate. Use your leftovers, or pop open a new bottle and drink those leftovers, to whip up these fast and easy recipes for braised mushrooms, steak with creamy herb jus, or a luscious, adults-only dessert featuring red-wine-poached figs served over vanilla ice cream.
Oysters: Long considered the iconic aphrodisiac, oysters have also been placed in the "only in fancy restaurants" category. They can actually be a lot more affordable (depending on where you live) and easy to work with than you think. Enjoy these slippery little creatures topped with breadcrumbs and cream in classically decadent dishes like scalloped oysters (cut this recipe in half for 2 people). Prefer them raw, but hate shucking? Do what I do: go to a very reputable fishmonger and have him/her shuck a dozen (or two) oysters into a container, liquor (aka, the salty brine in the shell) and all. Tell him to put 1 half shell of every oyster shucked into a separate bag for you (so 1 half shell per oyster). Rush home with these delicate gems or, if you won't be home for another hour, pack the container of oysters in an insulated bag with ice packs. When you're ready to serve, rinse the shells thoroughly and place them on a platter cup-side up. Return the oysters to each shell. Strain the liquor (there may be bits of shell or sand in it) and spoon some onto each oyster. Whip up a simple mignonette of red wine Green Chile Pork vinegar, finely chopped shallots, and black pepper to serve with them. Garnish with some lemon wedges et voilá! Your very own raw bar platter for two.
Related: Valentine's Day Beauty Tips
Spicy Chiles: They make your heart beat faster and they raise your body temperature. Sound familiar? Get hot and bothered with this flavor-packed, weeknight-friendly slow-cooker green chile pork or jerk-rubbed grilled catfish.
Asparagus GremolataAsparagus: These gorgeous stalks are easy to cook, easy to prep, and best of all, don't get stuck in your teeth. For an easy appetizer or side dish, try dipping some in this super simple, but delectable soy ginger sauce or make a super savory breadcrumb topping to go over it.
What's on your menu for Valentine's Day? Let me know in the comments!
-By Sherry Rujikarn
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