Forget cream-drenched set menus in crowded restaurants, enjoy this quick and healthy Valentine’s day feast with the one you love (especially if the one you love is yourself, your sofa and a Ryan Gosling DVD).
Lovely food blogger Sally Serves It Up has created this gluten-free, dairy-free and bloomin’ delicious Valentine’s themed menu for us. Share it with a loved one, dish it up for mates or devour it yourself, who cares just enjoy.
The beauty of this healthy menu is that you can do almost all of the prep work the night before, which means that you can enjoy the evening rather than wiping away the sweat slaving over a hot stove.
While a three-course meal may be the tradition, I’m not a big fan of starters at home. I love them in restaurants but they just don’t seem right in your own house. Instead, I like to do an antipasto board with artichoke hearts, anchovies, olives and some parma ham or my favourite, bresaola (salted air-dried beef). All of this means you’re still within in dairy/gluten free parameters and you’re not too full for dinner.
Main course: Pan-fried English veal with roasted butternut squash, rocket, slow roasted tomatoes and salsa verde
This gluten and dairy free main is a real crowd pleaser – everyone loves salsa verde, even if they don’t know it. The bold piquant flavours really compliment the sweet butternut squash and whatever meat you choose. I went for English veal but beef or lamb steaks would work well and if you’re vegetarian you could substitute with a tofu steak. Get the butternut squash, tomatoes and salsa verde sorted the night before so that all you need to do on the night is reheat them, dress the rocket and fry the steaks.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 medium butternut squash – chopped into biggish bite-sized chunks (you can also buy it pre-chopped and frozen which I think is a great time saver)
6 medium tomatoes – halved
Small bag of rocket
Juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
How to make: Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Lay the tomatoes on a baking sheet and season generously with salt and a little black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and cook in the oven for about 75-90 minutes – they should be golden brown and incredibly sweet. When done, leave to cool and turn up the oven to about 180 degrees. Toss the butternut squash in a little olive oil and season. Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes until soft and golden. Meanwhile, prepare the salsa verde (instructions below).
On the night, preheat the oven to about 160 degrees and throw the tomatoes and butternut squash in for about 15 minutes – you want them to be warm not hot. Toss the rocket in a little olive oil, some lemon juice and season. Place some on a plate and add the warm squash and tomatoes.
When you’re ready to eat, season your steaks and fry for a few minutes each side. When you’ve cooked them how you like (I normally like 3 minutes a side but of course this varies according to the size) wrap them in foil and let them rest for about 5 minutes. Serve with the salad and a big dollop of salsa verde.
For the Salsa Verde – makes enough for 4
25 g parsley
25 g basil
5 anchovy fillets (remove if vegetarian)
juice of 1 lemon
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 heaped tbsp capers
small handful gherkins
pinch of salt and pepper
How to make: In a blender, blitz all of the ingredients together. Add more lemon/olive oil to get the consistency you like. This will keep for a day or two in the fridge.
Dessert: Rhubarb and Greek Yoghurt Syllabub
I came across this pudding at a Total Greek Yoghurt cooking event – I swore that I would serve it at every dinner party since it was so easy and you can make it the day before. Greek yoghurt has a lot more protein than normal yoghurt and no added sugar. I’ve added raspberries because they’re my favourite but feel free to leave them out.
Ingredients – Serves 4 so simply halve for Valentine’s (or just make the full batch and have seconds!)
For the poached rhubarb and raspberries:
Punnet of raspberries
75g caster sugar
25ml Vin Santo
For the syllabub
400g Total Greek Yoghurt
2 vanilla pods scraped
How to make Chop the rhubarb into small chunks and put in a pan. Pour in the sugar and sweet wine and bring to a slow simmer. Throw in the raspberries and cook until it turns into a lovely sweet mulch. Leave to cool.
Whisk the Greek Yoghurt, mascarpone and vanilla until light and fluffy – either by hand or with an electric mixer. Put some into a glass and layer with the rhubarb mixture, alternating until you’ve filled the glass. Chill in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
For more of Sally’s recipes check out her blog Sally Serves It Up