A Classic, Simple Home-Cooked Dinner for Valentine's Day

filetsThere's no other holiday like Valentine's Day when lovers are given the chance to express their affection in many ways, be it something as simple as flowers or as fancy as a restaurant dinner. Here in New York City and there are many Valentine's Day dinner specials soon to be available. There is always an opportunity for couples to dine out and have a great, albeit, expensive time. But a private dinner at home can be just as special and a lot less pricey. I don't think there is anything more romantic than cooking for your other half. A meal that's made with love has so much more meaning than anything a restaurant could offer.

I have a simple dinner in mind. This entrée is simple and easy, using basic cooking techniques, so you don't have to spend too much time at the stove. It's uncomplicated, unfussy, hearty, and familiar in flavors: it's steak, potatoes, and spinach. These petite filet mignon make an elegant dinner for two and, with the side dishes included, come in well under 20 dollars, 30 if you include a good bottle of red wine. Celebrate your Valentine with this easy and affordable meal.

To make this dinner, it's all about getting all your ducks in a row so that everything finishes at the same time. But even if it doesn't happen that way, it's nothing to get upset about. First, start on the potatoes, then the steak, and the spinach. The spinach can also be cooked ahead of time and reheated. While the steaks rest, make the pan sauce. Or to speed things up a bit, have the wine reduced already and after removing the steaks, pour the wine into the pan to deglaze, and create a flavorful sauce.

Enjoy the remaining bottle of wine (minus 1 cup) with dinner. This dinner will truly impress the one you love. Happy Valentine's Day!

Pan-Seared Filet Mignon with Red-Wine Sauce, Rosemary-Roasted Potatoes, and Sautéed Spinach

2 6-ounce filet mignon, 1-1/2 inches thick
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon green peppercorns, crushed
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine
Rosemary-Roasted Potatoes, recipe follows
Sautéed Spinach, recipe follows

Let the steaks come to room temperature. Tie each tightly with kitchen twine. Scatter green peppercorns over a cutting board. Season the board liberally with salt and pepper. Press each steak into the seasoning, coating each side.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high to high heat. Add oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Sear steaks 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove to a plate, cover with foil and let rest. Cut off strings.

Pour off any grease in the pan. Add wine and simmer until reduced by half. Off the heat, swirl in remaining 1 tablespoon butter until emulsified. Serve each steak with a drizzle of red-wine sauce, potatoes, and spinach. Yield: 2 servings.

Rosemary-Roasted Potatoes

1 pound baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved
olive oil
1 tablespoon minced rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together potatoes with a good drizzle of oil. Scatter over with minced rosemary and leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Toss again and arrange potatoes cut-side down. Roast until tender when pierced with a knife and brown on the cut sides, about 30 minutes.

Sautéed Spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
10 ounces spinach leaves, trimmed, and washed
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Warm oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach, tossing and turning, until wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


Joseph Erdos is a New York–based writer and editor, but above all a gastronomer and oenophile. He shares his passion for food on his blog, Gastronomer's Guide , which features unique recipes and restaurant reviews among many other musings on the all-encompassing topic of food.