Well, it’s that time of year again. The shops are overflowing with flowers, unfeasibly large boxes of chocolate, and more heart-carrying teddy bears than anybody could ever wish for. Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is soon upon us, and if - like us - you aren’t up for showering your partner with gift shop detritus, you’re probably on the lookout for a more homely, heartfelt way to make the day a little bit special.
They say the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, but as any wine lover will tell you, managing to pair up a home-cooked dinner with a well-chosen wine pairing is the key to truly impressing your date.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro in this regard or someone who doesn’t have a whole lot of experience when it comes to cooking and picking out great bottles of vino, everyone can benefit from a few tricks of the trade.
Luckily for all of you, here at The Wine Gallery, we’re old hands in the fine art of seduction, and we’ve picked out three delicious and simple recipes - each with their own perfect wine pairings - for you to rustle up in your own kitchen.
So, avoid the mad rush for restaurant tables, set the lighting to low, stick some smooth tunes on the stereo, and have a go at some of these romantic dishes this Valentine’s Day!
Steak With Wine-Glazed Shallots
Time: 30 minutes
This decadent dish is perfect for those looking to cook something which comes across as highly impressive, and yet is actually incredibly simple and quick to prepare. Sirloin steak is known to be a bit of an aphrodisiac, too, so this romantic meal for two is sure to get you in the mood for love…
What You Need
- 8 brown shallots, peeled and quartered, but left whole at the root
- 2 sirloin steaks (about 175g each)
- 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 25g quality butter
- 150ml beef stock
- 1 large glass of good red wine
- Crushed black peppercorns
To kick things off, get a pan of water on the boil. Chuck in your quartered shallots, and let them simmer for about 3 minutes, then drain and set aside for later. Make sure your steaks are at room temperature and season them with some salt and plenty of the crushed pepper. Heat up half of your butter in a frying pan until sizzling, and cook the steaks for 3 minutes on each side for medium, or more or less for your liking.
Remove the steaks from the pan, and stick them on a plate to rest. In the meantime, throw the rest of your butter into the pan along with the shallots, and allow them to sizzle and start to brown. When they begin to catch, pour in the balsamic vinegar, and allow it to bubble away for 2 minutes or so.
Add the wine, and boil it down for 3 or 4 minutes until it starts getting sticky, then pour in the beef stock. Simmer for 7-10 minutes to allow all the flavours to come together. Serve the steaks and spoon plenty of the shallots and sauce over the top of them, and enjoy with some green beans and fries.
This delicious dish packs in plenty of deeply savoury flavours, and as such, it’s going to need a wine which is similarly bold and well-bodied. We’d recommend going for either a top-end bottle of Aussie Shiraz, a classic Bordeaux, or a fruity Malbec.
Spiced Cauliflower, Chickpea and Pomegranate Warm Salad
Time: 30 minutes
If you’re the sort of couple that likes to keep things light, meat-free and utterly delicious, then this gorgeously colourful dish is going to tick all the right boxes. Simple, effective, and great for sharing, it’s a real romantic favourite!
What You Need
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
- 4 small tomatoes, quartered
- 2 tsp harissa paste
- 2-4 tbsp pomegranate seeds
- Large bunch of flatleaf parsley
- Sea salt flakes, to taste
Before you get started on prepping your salad, you’ll need to preheat your oven to 220C. Take a large bowl, and pour in the olive oil, cinnamon and cumin seeds. Give it all a good stir, and then throw in the florets of cauliflower, tossing them around to get them coated with flavour. Pour the whole lot onto a baking tray, and stick it in the oven for 15 minutes.
While you’re waiting for your cauliflower to cook, take the same bowl (don’t wash it as it will still have some spicy flavour!) and toss in the tomatoes, drained chickpeas and harissa paste. Stir well to combine.
Once the 15 minutes are up, take the cauliflower out of the oven, and pour the tomato and chickpea mix over the top. Toss well to mix them all together, and put them back in the oven for a further 15 minutes.
Once the cauliflower is tender, put the whole lot back into the bowl you were using before. Sprinkle with sea salt and half of the pomegranate seeds, along with the torn flatleaf parsley. Divide into two bowls, top with the remaining pomegranate seeds, and serve warm.
This is an interesting dish to pair with a wine - on the one hand, you have the sweetness of the cauliflower and pomegranate. On the other, the subtle spiciness of the cumin and cinnamon. With this in mind, we’d go for something like a Gewurztraminer or dry Riesling, or even something like a Provencal Rosé.
Clam and Kale Linguine
Time: 20 minutes
There’s something fundamentally romantic and sensual about seafood. Supposedly enriched with aphrodisiac properties, clams, oysters and the suchlike have been associated with Valentine’s Day dinners for generations. This dish really allows the succulent sweetness of the clams to shine, and it’s a simple, quick and healthy dinner that really impresses - so give it a try!
What You Need
- 200g linguine or spaghetti
- 500g fresh clams
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 big garlic clove, finely chopped
- 75g spiced salami sausage (traditional nduja)
8 50ml white wine
- 100g kale
- Zest of ½ a lemon
As with any fresh shellfish dish, this one starts with you picking the clams. Give them a good rinse in cold, running water, and discard any that are damaged, or which are open and don’t close with a good squeeze. Boil a large pan of salted water, and cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the instructions state.
Heat the oil in a large lidded pan. Add the spiced sausage and the garlic, and cook until fragrant. Turn up the heat, pour in the clams and add the kale, followed by the white wine. Stick the lid on the pan, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until all the clams have opened and the kale has wilted.
Remove any of the clams which haven’t opened, and discard. Drain the pasta and stir it through the sauce, adding the lemon zest and some salt and pepper. Serve hot with some lemon wedges, and enjoy!
Seafood like clams are always a joy to pair with great quality white wines. This delicious clam linguine dish would work brilliantly with a top Sauvignon Blanc (which is also going to be really nice with the kale in the mix), but you could also go for a White Bordeaux or a very dry Rosé.
There you have it! Three easy recipes and pairings to whip up on Valentine's Day.
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