Reader Request: 5 Course Valentine’s Day Dinner on a Budget

If you’re like me, you show your love through food. So when we asked our followers for Valentine’s Day menu help, we were pumped to receive a few, cool challenges.

@OOGIAH, wrote in: “Any cool ideas for a Valentine’s Day treat that is also on my husband’s 40th birthday! Thanks!” She also gave us a few of her hubby’s likes and dislikes when it comes to dinner.

On Facebook, our friend Tawnee Subritzky was looking for an inexpensive, five-course meal for her husband, featuring garlic, pasta or seafood, and maybe a fondue for dessert.

Challenge accepted!

Here’s a totally delish, unique, cost-effective and relatively quick Valentine’s Day meal for you, Rachel and Tawnee, and anyone else cooking for their sweetheart. And if you’re ever in need of culinary assistance, we’re always around on Facebook and Twitter to help.

Appetizer:Eggplant Spread

This app is rich in flavor and low in cost. Quick to assemble, you just need time to roast the eggplant and pulse it a few times in a food processor (I’d recommend doing this the night before, so you can both nosh while you wrap up the rest of dinner that night). Add in a few, savory accompaniments like mixed olives and favorite cheeses, and you’ll have a beautiful start to your meal.

Soup: Mushroom Soup with Marsala

Quick-to-prepare and totally warming, this mushroom soup can also be made the night before so you’re already a few steps ahead to finish off your meal. If you  have access to some great, crusty bread, that will kick this soup up to the next level.

Salad: Arugula and White Bean Salad with Lemon Dressing

Don’t let the simplicity of this salad fool you – it’s drop-dead delicious. I think a big mistake in salads is to always follow the “kitchen sink” mentality. Instead, focus on a few, punchy flavors for a real bite that pops. Artichokes and cannelini beans shine here with a zip of lemon juice that will perfectly compliment your  entrée.

Entrée and Side: Greek Chicken or Shrimp with Everything Orzo

This dish is amazing because it comes together so quickly. The ingredients are also readily available and simple – I bet you have 90% of them in your kitchen already. Timing is important here, so have all of your ingredients prepped in advance (see our Bonus, below!). If orzo isn’t your thing, try this Wild Mushroom Risotto as a side.

Dessert: Super Simple Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondue

I think fondue is terribly romantic. It’s something you absolutely have to enjoy with a companion and feels so very decadent.

This fondue is wonderful because you can mix and match all of your love’s favorite treats, and you don’t even need a fondue pot. If peanut butter isn’t your jam (or won’t go with that carrot cake!), you can always omit. Try: Fresh fruits, sweet cakes, and crispy cookies for perfect dippers.

Bonus: Don’t forget that things can be tricky when you’re trying a new recipe, no matter how experienced you are in the kitchen. Check out our 5 top tips to never fail at a new recipe again before you get started on your romantic dinner.

[Top image via Flickr/**RCB**]

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