There is a lot of hype around Valentine’s Day. Guys, I’m going to throw you a bone here, you have it rough. Many of us ladies expect you to plan something romantic, original and surprising. That’s a lot of pressure! And, if you’re the kind that likes to go out and chip away at Washingtonian’s Top 100 list or the DC Eater Heatmap, chances are you’re looking at elusive reservations and pricey checks.
In lieu of all the production and planning, dare I suggest you…eat at home? A homemade meal enjoyed in the comfort of your own home might just be the most unique and thoughtful gastronomic gesture of all. Better yet, you’ll be healthier, richer and experience way more intimacy than if you were squished into banquette seating with hoards of other couples out on the town.
To help get those culinary creative juices flowing, here are three of my favorite heart-healthy and delicious recipes perfect for a party of two “prix fixe menu”.
Heart-healthy ingredient: Kale. Kale is rich in lutein, a compound recently linked to preventing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Heart-healthy ingredient: Salmon. Salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which decrease LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and reduce inflammation in blood vessels.
Heart-healthy ingredient: Strawberry. Strawberries contain heart-healthy essentials fiber, potassium and antioxidants, and are naturally fat, sodium and cholesterol-free.
To me, a grilled or sautéed fruit salad with fresh, dark leafy greens and local, melt-in-your mouth cheese is a birthday gift all in itself–hopefully my friend Jeanine agreed because that’s what she got for her big day this year.
Technically I flambéed the fruit instead of sautéeing, but that was a fun, scary and somewhat over-my-head cooking technique that I might not recommend to my broader audience.
It all started when I received some gorgeous prune plums in my from the farmer basket last week…
And then, I saw my butter sitting, bored, out on the counter (where it should be, in my opinion, much of the time) and my vermouth coyly eyeing me up from across the bar. Just like that, an idea was born – (cooked) Plum, Kale and Feta Salad! I love how culinary creativity works. You look around at what you have and you see if maybe, just maybe, those ingredients could be combined to form something truly delicious.
I knew right away what I would do with the plums – a little butter and sweet alcohol go a long way with these guys – but I new I’d have to balance out the sweetness with some bitter, creamy and salty notes. In comes the dino kale, which I find a bit more tasty but still as nutritious as curly kale; domestic feta, which I got from my favorite online grocery store Relay Foods that is ideal for when convenience takes precedence (and where you can save $30 on your first order of $50 or more); and some toasted pine nuts and mint for some texture and brightness.
Plum, Kale and Feta Salad with Fresh Mint and Pine Nuts
What You’ll Need:
- 1 pint of prune plums (or 3 medium purple plums), pitted and quartered
- 4 cups of dino kale, washed and roughly chopped
- 1 cup fresh feta cubes
- 1 Tbs unsalted, organic butter
- 2-3 Tbs (a “splash”) sweet vermouth
- Juice of 1 small lemon
- 1-2 Tbs olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
How to Make It:
- Melt butter is a sauté pan over medium heat until it starts to brown but not burn. Add cut plums to your pan and turn the heat up to medium-high for 1-2 minutes. Add a splash of sweet vermouth (any sweet wine or aperitif would work in a pinch). Cook about another minute, or until the liquid is pretty close to completely evaporated. Remove prunes from pan and let cool.
- In a large bowl, mix together kale, lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper. Massage the kale for a minute to work the dressing into the leaves.
- Combine the kale and plums together, cover, and set it in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Once it’s party time, add your toasted pine nuts, shredded mint leaves and feta cubes (I like this and all cheese at room temperature). Give it a good mix and enjoy!
If you want to look forward to getting gorgeous baskets of fresh produce each week and want to save 20% off your first 4 deliveries, sign up for From the Farmer and use code “MOARfit” at checkout.
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad w/ Pine Nuts
- 12-15 brussels sprouts, shredded (yield 6 cups)
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 1 tsp olive oil
- pinch of sea salt
1. Using mandoline, shred brussels sprouts 1/8″ thick–yield should be approximately 6 cups. Place shredded brussels sprouts in a large colander and wash thoroughly.
2. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Toss pine nuts in olive oil and salt and spread on a small baking sheet. Bake in pre-heated oven for ~5 min, checking frequently to be sure they don’t burn.
3. In a large bowl, combine shredded brussels sprouts, toasted pine nuts and lemon vinaigrette (recipe below), massaging the ingredients to thoroughly coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbs minced shallot
- 1 tbs corse Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- salt & pepper to taste
1.Combine all ingredients in a small glass bowl. Whisk vigorously to combine.