With Valentine’s Day as commercialized as it is, chances are good that if you go out to a restaurant it will be packed to capacity with couples trying to enjoy a romantic dinner. Not only that, but often restaurants will forgo their usual options for a choice between two or three courses, which means that unless you’re going to a specialty vegan restaurant, you’re almost certain to find meat or dairy products on every menu. So, forget about it! Cook at home! A home-cooked meal is much more romantic anyway, and you can choose whatever vegan dishes your little vegan heart desires. If you’re struggling for ideas (or if you just started dating a vegan and are completely lost), don’t worry: we’ve got you covered.
A salad is always a good starter, but it isn’t always easy to make it romantic. With a raspberry vinaigrette and the fresh fruit throughout, this salad has a lovely pink and red color that fits the occasion perfectly. Red onion can be fairly un-romantic (no one likes onion breath), so if you still want some crunch and tangy flavor, try adding pomegranate seeds. They’ll add even more red color, and are thought to be a natural aphrodisiac. Whether or not that’s true, they’re still delicious!
You’ll be wanting a drink with your romantic dinner, and nothing says romance quite like wine. You could just pick out a nice eco-friendly wine and leave it at that, but romance doesn’t have to be all sexy and sultry and red wine all the time. Romance should be fun, too! A nice sangria will give you the best of both worlds: the warmth of wine with some festive and fun fruit. Plus, the color will be a slightly lighter red, which should match the holiday nicely.
Simultaneously salty and sweet, these tempeh-bacon-wrapped dates are surprisingly decadent. They’re a perfect finger food without being too messy or greasy, and they make a great appetizer. Plus, dates are another one of those foods that have long been thought of as an aphrodisiac. These are tremendously easy to make, and can be prepared in advance and simply popped in the oven when needed. If dates aren’t your thing, pieces of pineapple work great as well.
When it comes down to it, Valentine’s dinners are really just about the dessert, aren’t they? This one is ideal for the occasion: a light, fizzy sorbet from strawberries and champagne that ends up the perfect color to match the holiday. Plus, a little alcohol in your dessert is never a bad idea, is it? Well, unless you’re underage… in which case, some lemon-lime soda will do the trick. Top it with strawberry slices cut in heart shapes for an extra adorable factor.
Another excellent appetizer, this paté forgoes meat and uses red peppers, onion, garlic, parsley, and walnuts to make a rich and creamy spread that’s perfect for crostini, bruschetta, crackers, or anything else you can think of to spread something onto. Once again, the color palette matches nicely, and this is another very quick and easy one to make. You could even enjoy this one separate from dinner, as a snack while watching your favorite rom-com.
This dish is so rich and so delicious that even the name of it should have you drooling. Imitation steak strips are used in this recipe, but with the puff pastry, creamy mushroom filling, and the Madeira wine sauce, you almost don’t even need it. This one is a hearty entrée, perfect as the centerpiece of the meal, and allows for tweaking as you see fit. Add porcini or morel mushrooms for extra flavor and texture.
You don’t need cream or eggs to make a delicious mousse. All you need is tofu! Believe it or not, this chocolate tofu mousse is so thick and rich that you might even want to cut it with some pureed raspberries. The added maple syrup provides a flavor you usually don’t get in chocolate mousse, and it works quite well. Garnish with some vegan coconut whipped cream or sliced strawberries for a rich, romantic dessert. You can even make a vegan graham cracker crust (or do one better, a Newman-O’s crust) and use this mousse as a filling for a chocolate mousse pie.
There’s something unidentifiably romantic about fondue. Maybe it’s the warmth of the food, or the extra time it allows you to stare longingly into each other’s eyes. Whatever the case, this vegan mushroom fondue is a rich and faux-cheesy substitution to the usual cheese fondue fare. Margarine, soy milk, miso and soy sauce combine to make a complex and tasty dip. Once the mix is prepared, you can choose whatever you want to dip in it, from raw veggies and fruit to bread to sweet potato fries!
It’s not much of a recipe, but chocolate-covered strawberries are about as romantic as food gets. Chocolate has been linked to seratonin levels in the brain, meaning it is essentially an aphrodisiac (or at least euphoria-inducing). Plus, these can be eaten (or fed to your special someone) anywhere, so you can enjoy them while watching a romantic movie after dinner or… you know, somewhere else. They’re about as easy as anything (melt vegan chocolate in a double boiler, dip strawberries), so they can be added to any meal. To make them extra-fancy, add some vegan whipped cream or drizzle accents of vegan white chocolate over the dark stuff.
This dish is not only delicious, healthy and low-fat, but the heart-shaped ravioli is extra adorable. This one makes a great entrée, and fits the occasion perfectly. Red sauce and heart-shaped ravioli? Can it get any better? The spinach filling in this recipe is great, but you can use other options if you want, like a pumpkin ravioli or even a vegan sweet potato pierogi. Bon appétit!