When you just don’t feel like battling it out for a Valentine’s Day restaurant reservation (that probably has an overpriced pre fixe menu you wouldn’t want anyway), keep it cozy and romantic with a decadent dinner and dessert cooked by you (and if you can rope your Valentine into helping, even better). Here are some ideas for a fool-proof menu complete with wine pairings. Consider it our V-Day gift to you.
For the Meat Lovers
recipe courtesy of Nathan Beriau, Executive Chef at The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
2 cups juice from POM Wonderful Pomegranates or 2 cups POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
1 cup brown sugar
juice and zest from 2 oranges
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Lamb and Marinade
1 cup juice from POM Wonderful Pomegranates or 1 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
3 lbs. boneless leg of lamb
½ cup high quality olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
3 cloves fresh garlic, smashed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper
Cucumber, Mint and Pomegranate Tzatziki
¾ cup arils from POM Wonderful Pomegranates or ¾ cup POM POMS Fresh Arils
1 European cucumber
zest from 1 lemon
high quality olive oil
1 bunch fresh mintFlatbread
1 package high quality pita bread
1 cup plain hummus
1 cup Greek yogurt
POM Glaze (can be made the day before)
1. Prepare fresh pomegranate juice, if necessary.
2. Combine 2 cups pomegranate juice, 1 cup brown sugar, juice and zest from
2 oranges, and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes in a saucepot.
3. Bring to a simmer, and reduce to syrup consistency.
4. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
1. Rinse the meat and pat dry. Arrange in a low baking dish.
2. Combine 1 cup pomegranate juice, ½ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon cumin, 3 cloves smashed garlic,
1 sprig rosemary and 3 sprigs thyme in a bowl; stir well to combine.
3. Pour marinade over lamb. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours prior to grilling.
Grilling the Lamb
1. Remove the lamb from the marinade and let the meat come to room temperature before grilling.
2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
3. Once the meat has come to temperature, season with salt and pepper, and grill for approximately
20 to 25 minutes to medium rare (an internal temperature of 125°–130°F).
4. As soon as you flip the lamb, begin basting it with the P∂M Glaze. Continue basting throughout the
cooking process, then remove from heat and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Cucumber, Mint and Pomegranate Tzatziki
1. Prepare fresh pomegranate arils, if necessary.
2. Peel and split the cucumber lengthwise and remove the seeds.
3. Small dice the cucumber and zest the lemon over the dice.
4. Season with salt and olive oil, then add 5 or so rough-chopped mint leaves. Let stand at room
5. Add arils just before serving.
To Assemble the Flatbread
1. Brush the pita bread with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper, then lightly grill the bread
on one side.
2. Spread the hummus on the warm pita bread, and then add the slices of lamb,
3. Top with the cucumber salsa and a spoonful of Greek yogurt.
Pairs Well With: Something bubbly like Chandon Rose, a sparkling wine with a soft, fruit-forward style that feels festive and is, more importantly for V-Day, pink.
For the Veggie Lovers
2 containers (15 ounces each) ricotta cheese
2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 package (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 tablespoon McCormick® Parsley Flakes
1 teaspoon McCormick® Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon McCormick® Perfect Pinch® Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Black Pepper, Ground
1 jar (26 ounces) spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup water
9 lasagna noodles, uncooked
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat eggs in large bowl. Add ricotta cheese, spinach, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, parsley, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper; mix well. Empty spaghetti sauce into medium bowl. Pour water into empty jar; cover and shake well. Add to spaghetti sauce; mix well.
2. Spread about 1 cup of the sauce onto the bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish; top with 3 noodles. Spread half of the cheese mixture over the noodles. Repeat sauce, noodles and cheese layer once. Top with remaining noodles and sauce, making sure to cover noodles with sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil.
3. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 15 minutes longer or until noodles are tender. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Serve with additional spaghetti sauce, if desired.
Pairs Well With: A full-flavored white or medium-bodied red, like 14 Hands 2012 Chardonnay Washington State or 14 Hands 2011 Merlot Columbia Valley
For the Chocolate Lovers
courtesy of Mario Lopez (yes, that Mario Lopez)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto Lungo capsule, brewed (4 fl. oz.)
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup NESTLÉ Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or almonds, toasted
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine sugar, coffee and butter in small, heavy-duty saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil; cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 325° F or until syrup begins to caramelize. Remove from heat; quickly stir in vanilla extract and salt.
3. Pour mixture quickly onto prepared baking sheet, spreading to desired thickness. Let toffee stand for 3 minutes. Sprinkle morsels evenly over toffee; let stand for 5 minutes or until soft and shiny. Spread chocolate into a thin layer over toffee; sprinkle with nuts. Let stand for 1 hour or until completely cool. Break toffee into pieces.
Pairs Well With: Columbia Crest 2011 Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley—this wine’s dark fruit flavors complement chocolate, cutting through some of its sweetness.
What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Share ‘em in the comments or tweet @OKMagazine.