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Last-minute romance! Make a deluxe Valentine's Day dinner in 30 minutes

by Casey Barber / / Source: TODAY

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Valentine's Day Dinner in 30 Minutes: Seared steaks, sauteed spinach, and butter gnocchi
Valentine's Day Dinner in 30 Minutes: Seared steaks, sauteed spinach and buttery gnocchiCasey Barber

Don't tell us you forgot about Valentine's Day! No worries — you still have time to salvage the night and look like a superstar. With this speedy romantic dinner menu, you can make a quick supermarket run and use a few pantry staples for an evening that looks like you planned it way ahead of time. (It'll be our secret.) Your wooing-worthy menu includes seared steaks (we recommend a prime steakhouse cut, such as a bone-in ribeye, strip steak, T-bone, or porterhouse) with sauteed spinach and buttery gnocchi. And if you still have room for dessert after this blowout dinner, whip up a five-minute chocolate mug cake. Make it even more decadent by serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

What are you waiting for? Pop a bottle of wine and get cooking!

Shopping List

  • 2 steaks (or 1 big steak, if you'd rather share)
  • 2 6-ounce bags of prewashed baby spinach
  • 1 pound (16 ounces) refrigerated prepared gnocchi
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese

Pantry List

  • Kosher salt (grab a small box at the store if you only have table salt; kosher salt's flakes are ideal for seasoning steaks)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • red chili flakes (optional)
  • Butter

Ready, set, cook: Put a 3- to 4-quart pot of water on to boil over medium-high heat, and preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Start the steak: Sprinkle the steaks generously on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or sauté pan (such as a 10- to 12-inch cast iron skillet) over high heat for about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and add the steaks. Cook for about 3 minutes without moving the steaks until they develop a nice brown char, then flip and sear the other side. (Depending on the size of your pan and the size of your steaks, you may have to cook them in the pan one at a time.)

If your skillet is oven-safe, transfer it to the oven. If not, transfer the steaks to a rimmed baking sheet before putting them in the oven. Roast for about 15 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak reads 130 degrees F for medium rare (if you like your steaks well-done, leave them in until your thermometer reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees F).

While the steaks cook, make the spinach: Mince the garlic cloves. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a clean, large skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and a pinch of chili flakes (if desired) and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Add the spinach in handfuls, stirring to wilt the spinach and reduce its volume in the pan so you can add more. If the spinach is very dry, without any droplets of water clinging to the leaves, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water to the pan to keep it from burning and sticking.

Once the spinach has cooked down, cover and reserve over low heat.

Let steaks rest and make the gnocchi: When the steaks reach your desired doneness, remove from the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes while you make the gnocchi. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes, just until the gnocchi soften. Drain and toss with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or butter, and grate fresh Parmesan cheese over the gnocchi.

Plate and serve: Divide gnocchi, spinach and steaks between two plates. Don't forget the steak knives and the candles!

This article was originally published Feb. 12, 2015 at 2:57 p.m. ET.

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