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40 romantic dinner recipes for an unforgettable Valentine's Day

It's time to turn on the stove — we're heating things up this Valentine's Day.
/ Source: TODAY

Going out to eat for Valentine's Day is so 2019 (read: pre-pandemic). And nothing quite says, "I love you" or "I wanna get to know you" like a homemade dinner.

This romantic holiday may have taken on different iterations over the years, from being coined "Galentine's Day" by single women to adding extra pressure on couples. But let's face it: The best way to express a little love, whether it's for a friend, a partner, your kids or anyone who is special to you (including yourself!), is to show off your skills in the kitchen.

Say "Happy Valentine's Day" like you mean it with beautiful starters and a satisfying entrees. Whoever you want to celebrate with, will feel happy and fulfilled with these perfectly easy, elegant recipes.

Four of Hearts Salad

The name of this recipe is a play on words with regard to your heart and the blood in the blood oranges. Grilling the romaine takes the flavor from refreshing to complex and the salad is full of color with a variety of textures that's visually pleasing on the plate.

These blissful bites are the perfect easy, elegant and impressive appetizer. No one will suspect they only took five minutes to make!

Roasting veggies to the point of charring them works beautifully with heartier varieties like broccoli and Brussels. Serve this simple salad warm, with a vinaigrette that’s bright, acidic and onion-y. With crispy pancetta and Dijon, it all balances out to a forkful of heaven.

Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates

This is the ultimate sweet and salty combo! You get tanginess from the cheese and sticky sweetness from the dates all wrapped in a crispy, salty bacon blanket.

While this recipe is ideal for entertaining when you're low on time and don’t want to make a huge mess, it really looks like a gourmet production. It comes together in one pan and it is sure to please.

Ina Garten said the fig preserves recipe for this surprisingly simple bruschetta may be one of the best things she's ever made. And when the Barefoot Contessa gives a dish that stamp of approval, we make it!

This tart is fast, easy and sure to impress. The bright flavors from the lemon and herbs complement the tanginess from the goat cheese, making the tart light but satisfying.

Kale Salad with Crispy Bread Crumbs

Siri Daly recreated one of her and Carson's favorite date-night appetizers from a restaurant in LA, and this hearty salad is it. So if you're feeling like sourcing a little romantic energy from the Dalys, this is your dish.

The irresistible combination of sweet, salty and briny make it impossible to have just one of these delicious skewers.

In this recipe, Molly Baz dishes out all the tips on what takes an OK shrimp cocktail to an exquisite shrimp cocktail. Finished with her herbaceous, spicy cream for dipping, it's hard to beat.

This whipped feta dip is a mouthful of tangy, salty flavors that, when combined with colorful, quick-pickled veggies, becomes a serious showstopper before dinner.

The Melting Pot's Classic Alpine Cheese Fondue

The most popular fondue at The Melting Pot, here, aged Gruyère, raclette and fontina cheeses are blended with white wine and fresh garlic and finished with a dash of nutmeg.

Pear and Brie Tarts

Pear and Brie Tarts

Skyler Bouchard

Talk about an easy way to impress a date! These tarts are great on their own, or as part of a larger charcuterie board.

Siri's Oysters on the Half-Shell

Oysters are an elegant way to kick off any date night. They are simple yet impressive, and completely delicious — especially when topped with hot horseradish, spicy cocktail sauce and savory mignonette.

Entrées

Siri's Heart-Shaped Meatloaf

This is a moist meatloaf, light in texture but heavy in flavor and completely nourishing. It is basted during the cooking process with a savory, tangy glaze that keeps the meatloaf tender while giving it a sweet crust. Oh, and if you didn't notice, it's also shaped like a heart.

Nobody said Valentine's Day dinner had to be time consuming or difficult. This easy dinner is part of the Mediterranean diet and it's absolutely delicious. Oregano, mint and feta round out the veggies, salty Greek olives and shrimp.

Chicken Bruschetta

From juicy, fresh Roma tomatoes to aromatic basil and ooey-gooey mozzarella cheese, this chicken dinner boasts gourmet pedigree and is ready in just 15 minutes. Plus, it looks beautiful plated, especially if you're opting for a red theme.

The predecessor of mac and cheese as we know it now, this Roman dish is made with pasta, cheese and pepper. The secret is using the starchy pasta's cooking water to create a creamy sauce that coats each strand. The result is perhaps the ultimate three-ingredient dinner ever.

Adam Richman loves a good rib-eye because of the complexity and richness of flavor. The salad offers a nice bit of a counterpoint and the avocado adds to the luxurious mouthfeel. It's visually arresting and a great crowd-pleaser.

Byaldi is a very typical Provençal dish, like a very fancy ratatouille. Each layer of the vegetables taste fresh and juicy as you eat them from the warm casserole. It's even better the next day if you manage to have leftovers.

You can never say no to white wine butter sauce, and this one is seriously the best ever. Add the salty notes of the capers and sweetness of fresh scallops and you have a little bite of seafood heaven.

Heart-Shaped Pizza with DIY Toppings

What could be more romantic than making and sharing a heart-shaped pizza with your sweetheart? Just imagine the sparks flying as you knead the dough and spread the toppings.

Veggie-packed pasta is perfect for date night because it's healthy, delicious and comes together fast — so you can get back to spending time with each other.

Bring your special someone on a taste-scape to a fabulous Parisian bistro! This classic dish is made easier and quicker with a simple 10-minute buttery, herby sauce to serve alongside the juicy steak.

Eric Ripert's Swordfish au Poivre

Swordfish is a great alternative to steak or other red meats. Eric Ripert serves his medium-rare with a creamy au poivre sauce.

Jean-Georges' Soy-Glazed Beef Short-Ribs

The sweet heat of the apple puree compliments the hearty richness of the tender beef in this recipe. It's also easy to prepare but is special enough to leave a lasting impression.

Vietnamese Steak Salad

This fulfilling salad starts with an umami-rich marinade that takes its cues from Vietnamese, Thai and even Korean kitchens.

Ravioli San Valentino

Ravioli San Valentino

Andrew Carmellini

Beets are great because they are super easy to work with. For Valentine's Day, this ravioli offers a festive but sweet and earthy combination of flavors.

Brie Pasta

Brie Pasta

Elizabeth Heiskell

This creamy, rich pasta comes together in a flash — and your date will be blown away by it.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Take a classic comfort food and transform it into an elegant dish fit for royalty. The blend of sharp cheddar, nutty Parmesan, the gradual build of mild heat from the pepper jack and the sweet and briny lobster meat make this mac unforgettable.

Maccheroni with Polpettine

This dish is soul-satisfying, and you're truly able to get a bite of a meatball and pasta with sauce in each bite. This is a bit of a play on the traditional Italian-style pasta. The maccheroni is a timeless, rustic shape.

Fish fillets baked in parchment with a colorful assortment of vegetables make an effortless and awesome dinner. All of the juices mingle together as the ingredients cook together. Plus, they smell incredible once you open the parchment, add fresh herbs and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

This dish is like a fancy-pants version of beef stew: every bit as comforting but with an elevated twist that makes it perfect for a Sunday supper with family or for entertaining very important guests.

This delicate, elegant dish is surprisingly simple to make. Adding the crunchy peanuts offsets the soft, voluptuous nature of the sea scallops yet still echo their buttery flavor. This is a dish in which you really have all the basic tastes of salt, sour, hot and sweet.

"I can't tell you how many times I've made this!" says Ina Garten. She recommends having the butcher butterfly the chicken so all you do is grind the thyme, fennel seeds, salt and pepper, mix it with olive oil, and brush it on the chicken. When the lemon slices are roasted and caramelized, you can eat them with the chicken.

Pasta alla Norma

Anthony Contrino

Sweet tomatoes, earthy eggplant and a little red pepper for spice make it a hearty dish for any night. Normally topped with ricotta salata, this version uses a whipped ricotta to balance the tomato-based sauce with a creamier texture.

Rosemary Garlic Hasselback Potatoes

This recipe looks much fancier than the amount of work required to make it. Pair it with a protein — like chicken or steak — or serve it on its own for a showstopping vegetarian main.

Red Wine Pasta

This eye-catching, ruby-red pasta is always the star of a party. It only takes 20 minutes, including both prep and cook time, and the noodles take on a sweet, earthy flavor from the wine.

Five ingredients (not including oil, salt and pepper) come together to make this a one-pot meal. Serve it with a salad and dinner's complete. Making deep gashes into the chicken before roasting not only allows the spices to penetrate more deeply, it also speeds up the cooking.

Creamy Lobster Linguine

Creamy Lobster Linguine

Giada De Laurentiis

Trust us: This luscious lobster linguine is the most decadent display of affection.