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My Special Valentine’s Day Dinner

I decided to make my special Valentine’s Day dinner a day early so it would be available for anyone who may want to make all or part of it for their own Valentine celebration.

There’s nothing quick and easy about the prep. Lots of cutting things into heart shapes, which is time consuming, but, hey, that’s what makes it special. I have heart-shaped cookie cutters somewhere, but I can’t find them since moving last Spring, so I cut everything free-hand.

The “Here’s My Heart Salad” features artichoke hearts, romaine hearts, hearts of palm, and heart-shaped red beets. You can use your favorite dressing — I used a vegan Caesar, but a balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette would be nice to cast a rosy glow.

For the Wellingtons, I cut seitan and portobello caps cut into heart shapes and sautéed them and let them cool. I then stacked them and wrapped them in a piece of puff pastry that I shaped like a heart and baked them at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.

At the last minute, I decided to pierce the pastry with an asparagus “arrow” (cute, huh? My husband thinks I go overboard.) The sauce is a red wine sauce.

The heart-shaped potatoes were cut out of a large russet and roasted with olive oil and salt and pepper. I placed a roasted red bell pepper heart on each slice of potato.

For dessert, I made a small plain cheesecake and then enrobed it with melted chocolate. The garnish on top is some heart-shaped cherry jam topped with a chocolate-cherry truffle, that I shaped into a heart, and “iced” with vegan cream cheese. More truffles and some dried cherries complete the effect.

Okay, so I told you about my special dinner – now I’d like to hear about your Vegan Valentines celebration.

Valentine’s Day Dinner — Over the top?

I must be a romantic at heart, but there’s something about Valentines Day that makes me want to prepare what some may consider an over-the-top theme dinner. Each year I try to outdo myself, setting parameters such as all the food has to be red, or all the food has to be heart-shaped. One year I tried for both, and it was a bit extreme, even for me.

This year, I’m going with a “heart” theme, too – everything I serve has to have “heart” in either it’s name or shape. I’m posting the menu now. I’ll post photos of the results on February 14th:

Valentine’s Menu
Here’s My Heart Salad
(artichoke hearts, romaine hearts, hearts of palm and heart-shaped red beets)
Heart-Shaped Wellingtons
(sauteed seitan and portobello cap cut in heart shape and layered between heart-shaped puff pastry and baked)
Roasted Heart-Shaped Potatoes and Red Bell Peppers
Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake topped with Chocolate Cherry Truffles
(I’ll shape the truffles like little hearts)

Let me know what you think of my menu or share one of your own.

Jazzing Up Veggies

One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is how to make vegetables more interesting, especially when there are resistant family members. Here are a few of my favorite tips:

• Try different cooking methods. If you’re used to steaming asparagus, for example, try roasting it instead. Simply arrange trimmed asparagus spears on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees until tender and just starting to brown, about 8 minutes (depending on the thickness of the asparagus).
• Liven up veggies, salads (and grain and noodle dishes, too!) by topping them with chopped toasted nuts or seeds to add flavor, crunch, and protein. Experiment new dressings, sauces, and condiments to perk up your meals.
• Use fresh herbs to make everyday dishes extraordinary.

I’ll share more tips on another post. In the meantime, do you have any favorite tips or success stories that you’d like to share?