Your lady or gentleman caller never has to know that their perfect meal wasn’t actually hard to make.
1. Coconut-crusted tilapia with a pretty pomegranate salsa:
You get points for using unusual ingredients, even when it isn’t actually any more complicated. Get the recipe.
2. A low-maintenance but very chic kale risotto:
The beauty of this vegetarian risotto is that you bake it instead of standing there stirring for 20 minutes, so you can devote your undivided attention to your bae. Store-bought pesto is totally fine if you don’t have time to DIY. Get the recipe.
3. Individual steaks with sweet balsamic-roasted cherry tomatoes:
You could cover a piece of cardboard in roasted cherry tomatoes and it would be delicious. But steak is much better than cardboard. Get the recipe.
4. Perfectly seared scallops with herb-infused brown butter:
Scallops are so fast to cook that you can do it while your date is watching and show them how talented you are with a frying pan. (Just maybe do a practice round first?) Serve these with a starchy side or plenty of good bread to soak up the sauce. Get the recipe.
5. Roasted sweet potatoes topped with a pretty mix of chickpeas, tomatoes and herb sauce:
Just act like you came up with that genius flavor combo yourself. No big deal. Get the recipe.
6. Cozy chicken piccata:
I don’t know about you, but if someone cooks me something with capers in it, I’m going to be very impressed. Serve these up with pasta. Get the recipe.
7. Mussels steamed in white wine:
Mussels are super fast to cook, suggest a very romantic Parisian-bistro vibe, and dealing with the shells provides a fun(ny) date activity. Get the recipe.
8. Super-simple cacio e pepe spaghetti:
This is the extremely classy, grownup version of the butter-and-cheese microwave pasta that was your passion as an 8-year-old. But it still only takes four ingredients. Get the recipe.
9. Easy roasted salmon with crispy potatoes:
Fish is so much easier to cook than you think, and salmon is the most forgiving fish of all. Get the recipe.
10. A cheesy skillet full of chicken and zucchini parm:
This borrows the things that make everyone love pizza (tomato, cheese) and applies them to something a little more impressive. Get the recipe.
11. Creamy lemon & asparagus pasta that just happens to be vegan:
Because nothing says “I love you” like working with someone’s dietary limitations and making it look easy. Get the recipe.
12. His-and-hers pork chops with mustard greens:
You can skip the quick-pickled shallots if you’re in a hurry, but they’re worth a lot of extra credit points. Try kale if you can’t find mustard greens. Get the recipe.
13. A Thai-style fish fillet cooked in its own little parchment packet:
No love interest could possibly resist their own personalized fish gift. Get the recipe.
14. Crispy chicken and Brussels sprouts that get cozy in one pan:
You brown the chicken, add the sprouts, and roast with a little broth until everything’s tender on the inside. LIKE YOUR DATE’S HEART. Get the recipe.
15. A bright coconut curry that doesn’t actually require exotic ingredients:
Nothing you can’t find at your normal grocery store, and you could make it a day ahead of time if you’re prepping for a weeknight assignation. Serve this with rice or quinoa. Get the recipe.
17. Shrimp scampi lounging on a bed of linguine:
Shrimp is the fastest thing in the world to cook, and the only other stuff you’ll need is basic pantry staples. Plus, you’ll have wine leftover! Get the recipe.
18. Pulled pork that you secretly had going in your slow cooker all day:
Serve with buns, slaw, and any other sandwich fixings you like. Get the recipe.