Unless you’re the most organised, not to mention romantic, person on the planet, Valentine’s Day can creep up on you and take you by surprise.
Restaurants book up fast and, if you haven’t planned ahead, getting all the ingredients together for a super-impressive meal isn’t always simple.
Or maybe you made no plans because you didn’t have anyone to impress – only to land a date at the last minute. Well, lucky you. But what are you going to cook?
You needn’t blow your wage packet on bags of fancy ingredients. Chances are you’ve got perfectly good store-cupboard items and leftovers that can be transformed into ridiculously romantic dishes designed to impress.
Shhh. We won’t tell.
We’ll leave the candles, conversation and cuddles up to you…
Bread, cheese and wine - what could be more romantic than this American fondue for two?
It’s a fab way to use up leftover, random bits of cheese sitting in the fridge, too.
Any kind will do – just use whatever odds and ends you have.
You don’t need a fancy set, either. All you need is that cheese, a little white wine and a cast-iron pot.
Don't fritter it away
If you have eggs, you can make a speedy yet seductive meal. Omelettes and frittatas are fab for using any leftovers like boiled or roasted veg, too. Or chop tomatoes, onion, chilli and any fresh herbs sitting in the fridge into these fab fluffy egg fritters. Serve with a big green salad and salsa.
Store cupboard soufflé
This may just be the romantic dish of dreams. But soufflés are actually made using ingredients most of us tend to have in our cupboards and fridges - eggs, milk, flour, salt and pepper. Then you can jazz it up depending on what else you have to hand.
You could use jarred or vacuum-packed beetroot to make this super-pretty pink soufflé.
Or make this simpler cheeseboard soufflé using whatever leftover cheese you have in the fridge.
'Throw it all together' tart
Sometimes you just have to roll with it. When it comes to last-minute Valentine’s Day meal emergencies, frozen puff pastry is your best wingman to win that heart. Use leftovers, odds and ends to top ready-rolled squares. Pesto, chicken, peppers and mushrooms all work. Let this recipe for ham, mozzarella and tomato tart be your guide.
Make-do Moroccan tagine
This romantic recipe for vegetarian Moroccan tagine uses ready-made falafels. But throw in whatever fresh, frozen or leftover cooked veg you have in for a flavoursome pot sure to please your date. There's no time for shopping when you’re dressing to impress.
Save your sauce
You can put whatever you have in the fridge, from spoonfuls of tomatoey pasta sauce to cooked meat and veg, on top of this cute, and gloriously cheesy, romantic statement.
Just make sure it’s something your date likes to eat, rather than your faves. This isn’t the time for selfishness.
Get recipe here.
Pasta is ideal for using up veg and stuff sitting in your cupboards, and makes for a beautifully simple Valentine’s Day dinner. And if sharing spaghetti is good enough for Lady and the Tramp…
And being able to throw together something like this classic with tomatoes, chilli, garlic and breadcrumbs is pretty attractive. You could also throw any leftover cooked veg into this Spaghetti Al’Arrabiata recipe.
Easy peasy pudding
Valentine’s Day is one occasion when dessert is definitely required. You don’t want your date to think you haven’t made an effort, now, do you?
Got leftover stewed fruit or half a tin of peaches that needs eating up? Roast tinned fruit in place of fresh for a throw-together pud that’s just peachy.
Get the recipe for easy peach pudding here.
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