A romantic meal for two becomes an intimate experience when you're stirring, slicing and spicing together over sizzling pans. Whether you’re both culinary novices, seasoned chefs or one of each, cooking side by side in your kitchen’s close quarters brings you together both physically and emotionally.
For beginners, it’s best to start out with a simple soup. Select a recipe with lots of ingredients for the two of you to chop – think a veggie-heavy minestrone or a rich gumbo. Check the recipe in advance for any prep that needs to be done, such as soaking dried beans overnight. If you’re both new to cooking, steer clear of recipes that require complex steps, such as blending or straining the broth, unless you’re willing to risk less-than-appetizing results. But it may just be worth the gamble – sometimes food flops are more fun and memorable than the successes. Tip: Leftover soup heats up nicely, so you can always make an extra for lunch if you are short on time during the weekdays.
Get a little saucy with your partner while preparing a pasta dish together that features a homemade sauce rather than one from a jar. Homemade recipes require experimentation to find the seasoning that satisfies both of your personal preferences, which equals quality time together as you perfect your own signature recipe over multiple meals. The beauty is that there’s such a wide array of pastas that pair well with an assortment of sauces, including tomato, cream and browned-butter variations. All the possible combinations mean more meals to prepare together as you hone in on your favorites. Once you’ve mastered the sauces, up the ante by making your own pasta from scratch. Want a challenge? Try making your own pasta!
If the two of you are foodies who tend to be a tad territorial over your flavors, forgo the entrees for a meal of only appetizers. This way you can each work on your own dishes while still sharing the kitchen and the equipment. Plus, the small portions mean you’ll have enough room to sample all the hors d'oeuvres you each make. Just hammer out a cohesive menu and cook times in advance to ensure a balance of hot and cold appetizers and avoid any battles over burner space. Also, consult each other on your main ingredients to avoid duplicate proteins. Or work off of the same ingredients list and stage a friendly competition to make the best dish. If you dare, invite a couple of friends over to be judges (just don’t reveal who made each dish beforehand).
Perhaps one of the most enjoyable and rewarding recipes to prepare with your partner is his favorite meal, such as lasagna the way his mom used to make it or that tasty scallop risotto he loves so much. The intimacy of preparing such a personal meal together will soon have you both reminiscing as you create new memories. Remember that the goal is to prepare the meal as your partner prefers it, whether you’re a fan of the flavors or not; then swap roles the next time you're in the kitchen. As a sentimental twist, make separate meals for each other inspired by some of your best times together, then take turns guessing which cherished memory inspired them.
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About the Author
Former high school counselor and educator Christine Bartsch has written home, style, relationship, travel, education and entertainment content for publications including Prestwick Press, USAToday and "The Tyra Banks Show." Bartsch earned her BFA in psychology and interpersonal communication from Wisconsin Lutheran College and a creative writing MFA from Spalding University. She's also written scripts for film/television productions and worked as the senior writer at a video game company.