They're simple, delicious, inexpensive and as far as I'm told, good aphrodisiacs (I haven't been able to verify that in any scientifically rigorous manner). Oysters are the perfect first course for a Valentine's day meal, and if you watch our guide to shucking, you'll be able to do it without simultaneously shucking your hand.
You can make sushi or sashimi as one of the first couple of courses in a multi-course romantic extravaganza, or you could just make a whole meal of it. Either way, our Sushi Week guides will show you everything you need from cooking the rice to cutting the fish to eating it without embarrassing your Japanese in-laws.
A Simple Green Salad
You could go all out with a full vegetable side dish, but a simple green salad with winter greens like arugula, endive, or frisée tossed with a simple vinaigrette can be just as satisfying, and a whole lot easier on your schedule.
Quick-Cooking Chicken Paillards with Pan Sauce
Take a chicken breast, split it in half, pound it a bit, and you've got something that cooks through in about four minutes. Deglaze the pan you cooked it in with some wine and stock, mount it with butter and herbs, and you've just made a plate-licking main course in under 10 minutes. Here's our guide to making paillards, along with a great recipe for simple Parisian Chicken.
Tenderloin Steak with Lemon-Parsley Butter
Generally I'm not a big fan of tenderloin—I prefer fattier, more flavorful cuts like ribeye or hanger. On Valentine's Day, though, you want something that won't weigh you down post-meal. Follow this recipe which uses our beer cooler sous-vide method. Cooking sous-vide and serving with a compound butter means virtually no last-minute prep. Just sear the steak, and serve.