Single? Attached? Both? I’m not one to embrace Valentine’s Day wholeheartedly, but I will jump at any opportunity to drink wine and eat chocolate. Whatever your status happens to be this weekend, you deserve to have a perfect February 14th feast – be it sweet or savoury, solo or shared. Here are a few ideas for hearty (is this getting old yet?) Valentine’s Day fare:
Situation 1: “Valentine’s Day sucks, I’m staying in! Alone!”
Bring on the Netflix and DIY manicures! Before parking yourself on the couch, make sure you’re not without delicious munchies. I’d suggest whipping up a bowl of Budget Bytes’ Sriracha caramel corn. Easy, quick, cheap and oh-so-tasty.
If you want to avoid your kitchen, you can have your spicy corn and chocolate to boot by stopping by SOMA Chocolatemaker (Distillery District and King St. West) and picking up a jar of their totally addictive Harissa Corn. Crunchy toasted corn tumbled in chocolate and dusted with fiery North African Harissa spices… um, NOM?
Situation 2: “Valentine’s Day? Whatevs, let’s party.”
Just another night at the bar, right? Why not gather a few friends at your place for snacks and drinks before hitting the town? I’m kind of obsessed with charcuterie, and it’s perfect to pick at while you and your buds knock back a few before you head out. You can go full tilt and supply all the fixins, or ask each person to contribute an item.
Essentials: Prosciutto, sausage, crostini, cheese (at least two kinds), olives/pickles as well as some type of spread; compote, mustard, whatever your vibe is. I like some grapes on the side, too. There are lots of places where you can find all of these things, like St. Lawrence Market, but I’d like to give a personal endorsement to Alex Farm Products, Leslieville Cheese Market, and Sandy Aleksander.
If this sounds like too much work and not enough chocolate, check out SOMA’s Tiffin Box — a quadruple-layered masterpiece of sugary goodness, inspired by India’s lunchpail delivery service. It looks cool, and there’s a good assortment of treats here: white chocolate-covered pumpkin seeds, a chocolate heart with raspberry hazelnut filling, truffles, chocolate berry pop rock bark, and COOKIES. Devour this in one night and you and your friends might not make it to the bar. $75 plus tax for this sugar rush in four parts.
Situation 3: “I love love…”
…and want to have a good ol’ traditional, lovey-dovey Valentine’s Day dinner for two at home. Cooking for someone, being cooked for or cooking together is way more romantic than some amateur prix-fixe hiked up to an exorbitant price.
If you’re buying in to this holiday, have fun with it. Start off with this pureed beet dip from the Jerusalem cookbook — it’s pinky-purple and a little on the sweet side:
Roast 2lb of beets in your oven at 400 degrees, uncovered, for about 1 hour until a knife slides through the centre easily. Peel and allow to cool.
Chop beets and place in a food processor with 2 cloves of garlic, 1 small seeded and chopped red chile, a rounded cup of Greek yoghurt and blend. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1.5 tbsp of maple syrup, 3 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of za’atar, plus salt and pepper. Garnish with goat cheese, chopped green onion, and chopped nuts. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with naan or pita.
Next, have this refreshing salad made with kohlrabi, apple, endives and pomegranates. Pomegranates are an ancient fruit of love and kohlrabi is a totally weird awkward-looking thing: a perfect match for Valentine’s Day!
As a main, I’d advise sticking to something light, like chicken or fish. Who wants to ruin a romantic night in by being hit by a double-whammy food baby/coma?
I like this shrimp recipe from Chatelaine, and it would go well with kohlrabi. The lemon slaw mentioned in this recipe is also excellent if you’re not in the mood to hunt for alien vegetables, but I’d add some pomegranate seeds to punch it up.
For dessert, make chocolate mousse ahead of time. It’s simple, silky, and sexy. This is a really straightforward recipe featuring an avocado disguised as a rich, creamy wonderfood.
Add booze to this menu and you’re golden. Have fun, lovebirds!