6 Quick Romantic Dinner Recipes for Two

1.Fennel & Shrimp Fra Diavolo

“Sweet shrimp and fennel are just the thing to pair with spicy, garlicky tomato sauce in this healthy makeover of an Italian pasta recipe. If you’re not a fan of heat, adjust the amount of crushed red pepper to taste. Serve with a green salad with a red-wine vinaigrette or sautéed green vegetables.”

Ingredients

    • 4 ounces whole-wheat penne (about 1½ cups)
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • ½ small onion, sliced
    • ½ medium fennel bulb, cored and sliced, fronds reserved
    • 2 large cloves garlic, grated or minced
    • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
    • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
    • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
    • 8 ounces raw shrimp (21-25 count; see Tip), peeled and deveined

Directions

  • 1Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add penne and cook according to package directions. Drain, return to the pot and cover to keep warm.
  • 2Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and fennel and cook, stirring, until starting to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and cook 1 minute more. Add tomatoes and their juice; bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until they are just cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  • 3Stir about ½ cup of the tomato sauce into the pasta to lightly coat it. Divide between 2 pasta bowls and top with the remaining shrimp and sauce. Serve sprinkled with chopped fennel fronds, if desired.
  • Shrimp is usually sold by the number needed to make one pound. For example, “21-25 count” means there will be 21 to 25 shrimp in a pound. Size names, such as “large” or “extra large,” are not standardized, so to get the size you want, order by the count per pound. Both wild-caught and farm-raised shrimp can damage the surrounding ecosystems when not managed properly. Fortunately, it is possible to buy shrimp that have been raised or caught with sound environmental practices. Look for fresh or frozen shrimp certified by an independent agency, such as the Marine Stewardship Council. If you can’t find certified shrimp, choose wild-caught shrimp from North America—it’s more likely to be sustainably caught.

2.Chicken Saltimbocca

“This healthy chicken saltimbocca recipe makes an impressive, yet fast, classy dinner. Serve this Italian-inspired chicken with roasted broccoli rabe and creamy polenta to round out this elegant meal.”

Ingredients

    • 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5-6 ounces each), tenders removed (see Tip)
    • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
    • 2 thin slices prosciutto
    • 2-4 fresh sage leaves
    • 1½ teaspoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • ¾ cup dry Marsala

Directions

  • 1Put chicken breasts between pieces of plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin or the smooth side of a meat mallet, bash them to a thickness of about ¼ inch, but don’t bash so hard that they break up. Season with pepper. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each chicken escalope and put a sage leaf or two on top. Lightly dust the chicken on both sides with flour.
  • 2Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken until no longer pink in the middle, about 3 minutes per side. To check if it’s done, stick the tip of a sharp knife into it: the juice that runs out should be clear with no trace of pink. Transfer the chicken to a warm platter and cover with foil.
  • 3Add Marsala to the pan and cook over high heat until thickened and reduced by about half, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve the sauce over the chicken.
  • It’s tricky to find individual chicken breasts small enough for one portion. Removing the thin strip of meat from the underside of a 5-ounce breast—the chicken tender—removes about 1 ounce of meat and yields a perfect 4-ounce portion. Wrap and freeze the tenders and when you have gathered enough, use them in a stir-fry or for oven-baked chicken fingers. If you can only find large chicken breasts, you’ll need just 1 breast for 2 servings—remove the tender and cut it in half crosswise before cooking.

3.Quick Chicken Parmesan

“Ooey-gooey cheese, crispy breadcrumbs and plenty of sauce are the hallmarks of any good chicken Parmesan recipe, and this one-skillet version of chicken parm for two is no exception. We made this recipe easier by skipping the breading on the chicken and loading the top of the dish with cheese and breadcrumbs. Serve it with whole-wheat pasta to soak up the extra sauce.”

Ingredients

    • 1 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
    • ¼ cup coarse dry breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat (see Tip)
    • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 14-ounce can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes (or 1½ cups from a 28-ounce can)
    • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
    • ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
    • ½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley

Directions

  • 1Cut chicken breast in half on the diagonal to make 2 roughly equal portions. Place between pieces of plastic wrap and pound with the smooth side of a meat mallet or a heavy saucepan to an even ¼-inch thickness. Sprinkle the chicken with ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan and ½ tablespoon oil in a small bowl; set aside.
  • 2Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler to high.
  • 3Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  • 4Add onion and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Pour in crushed tomatoes; add Italian seasoning, salt and the remaining ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the chicken and any accumulated juice to the pan. Turn to coat with the sauce.
  • 5Sprinkle about ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese over each piece of chicken, then top with the reserved breadcrumb mixture. Broil until the cheese is melted, about 1 minute. (Watch carefully to prevent burning). Serve the chicken with the sauce, sprinkled with basil (or parsley).
  • Tip: To make your own dry breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Spread breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about ⅓ cup dry breadcrumbs. For store-bought coarse dry breadcrumbs we like Ian’s brand, labeled “Panko breadcrumbs.” Find them at well-stocked supermarkets.

4.Seared Salmon with Pesto Fettuccine

“The brightness of basil pesto is a nice match for the buttery flavor of salmon in this quick and healthy dinner recipe. Refrigerated pesto, found near fresh sauces and salsas at most stores, is prettier and has a better taste than jarred varieties. ”

Ingredients

    • 4 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine
    • ⅓ cup refrigerated prepared pesto
    • 10 ounces wild Alaskan salmon (see Tip), skinned and cut into 2 portions
    • ⅛ teaspoon salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
    • 1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

  • 1Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook until just tender, about 9 minutes. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl. Toss with pesto.
  • 2Meanwhile, season salmon with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a medium cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon and cook, turning once, until just opaque in the middle, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Serve the salmon with the pasta.
  • Wild-caught salmon from the Pacific (Alaska) is considered the best choice for the environment because it’s sustainably fished. Look for sustainably farmed Atlantic salmon, too (the label may say land- or tank-based); conventional farming methods endanger the wild salmon population. For more information about sustainable seafood, go to seafoodwatch.org.

5.Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

“Paper-thin slices of prosciutto are turned into a salty, crispy “crust” in this quick chicken thigh recipe with mushroom sauce that serves two. Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed greens. ”

Ingredients

    • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 10 ounces), trimmed
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
    • 2 thin slices prosciutto (about 1 ounce)
    • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1 small shallot, halved and thinly sliced
    • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano, divided
    • 4 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
    • ¼ cup Marsala (see Tip) or dry sherry
    • ½ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
    • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Directions

  • 1Sprinkle chicken thighs with ⅛ teaspoon pepper and wrap each with a slice of prosciutto.
  • 2Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; tent with foil to keep warm.
  • 3Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, shallot and 1½ teaspoons oregano to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the shallot is beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until browned in spots, 3 to 5 minutes. Add Marsala (or sherry), return heat to medium-high and cook 2 minutes.
  • 4Whisk broth, cornstarch and the remaining ⅛ teaspoon pepper in a measuring cup; add to the pan, stirring. Return to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and glossy, 2 to 3 minutes more. Serve the chicken with the mushroom sauce, sprinkled with the remaining ½ teaspoon oregano.
  • Tip: Marsala, a fortified wine from Sicily, is a flavorful addition to many sauces. Don’t use the “cooking Marsala” sold in many supermarkets—it can be surprisingly high in sodium. Instead, purchase Marsala that’s sold with other fortified wines in your wine or liquor store. An opened bottle can be stored in a cool, dry place for months.

6.Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp with Arugula Salad

“This recipe for jumbo shrimp wrapped in thin strips of prosciutto and served on a lemony bed of arugula is a practically effortless recipe for two. Wrap your shrimp and make the dressing ahead of time, and you’ll have dinner on the table even faster. Serve with toasted whole-wheat baguette sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. ”

Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus 2 teaspoons, divided
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 1 small clove garlic, minced
    • Pinch of salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
    • 4 cups lightly packed baby arugula
    • 8 raw jumbo shrimp (13-15 per pound; see Tip)
    • 4 very thin slices prosciutto (about 1 ounce), cut in half lengthwise to make 8 strips

Directions

  • 1Whisk 1 tablespoon oil, lemon juice, garlic, and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add arugula and toss to coat.
  • 2Peel and devein shrimp, leaving the tails on. Pat dry and sprinkle both sides with the
  • 3remaining pinch of pepper. Wrap 1 piece of prosciutto around each shrimp.
  • 4Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, turning once, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Serve the shrimp with the arugula salad.
  • Tip: Shrimp is usually sold by the number needed to make one pound. For example, “21-25 count” means there will be 21 to 25 shrimp in a pound. Size names, such as “large” or “extra large,” are not standardized, so to get the size you want, order by the count per pound. Both wild-caught and farm-raised shrimp can damage the surrounding ecosystems when not managed properly. Fortunately, it is possible to buy shrimp that have been raised or caught with sound environmental practices. Look for fresh or frozen shrimp certified by an independent agency, such as the Marine Stewardship Council. If you can’t find certified shrimp, choose wild-caught shrimp from North America—it’s more likely to be sustainably caught.
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