Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with your partner, with your pod or by yourself, these recipes will help make the day special without a full day spent in the kitchen. These dishes don’t require tons of ingredients and most of them come together in under an hour.
Nothing says “I love you” like a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with melty Gruyère and caramelized onions. This recipe from Ali Slagle has more than 2,000 five-star reviews, so it’s a guaranteed home run. (Tip: Have breath mints handy.)
This easy no-mixer cake from Jerrelle Guy can be made with fresh or frozen strawberries (or any berry, really). Just be sure to defrost frozen berries in the microwave first. Serve it with whipped cream or the best vanilla ice cream you can get your hands on — or both.
Recipe: Strawberry Spoon Cake
This vibrant vegetarian sheet-pan dinner from Yasmin Fahr is just as beautiful as a bouquet of flowers, but infinitely more satisfying. If you like, use broccoli instead of broccolini, and serve the whole mess over a pile of chewy farro.
Perfect for celebrating with your Galentine pod or your family, this velvety fondue from Melissa Clark is a welcome excuse to pull out that 1970s fondue set you inherited from your Aunt Charlene. It’s endlessly adaptable, too: Sub in Cheddar, raclette or Monterey Jack for the Gruyère and Emmenthaler.
Recipe: Classic Cheese Fondue
Thanks be to Genevieve Ko for coming up with this five-ingredient salty-sweet salmon. For a full-on feast, serve it with roasted potatoes, green beans or a salad.
Recipe: Maple-Baked Salmon
Readers adore Sue Li’s 30-minute lemony white bean and shrimp stew for its simplicity and adaptability. If you like, add another can of beans, serve it over pasta or use shallots in place of leeks to speed up the prep.
Recipe: Lemony Shrimp and Bean Stew
A delicious meal that cooks up in one pot feels like a magic trick. This brightly flavored chicken dish from Yewande Komolafe is just that. Readers had success substituting feta for the halloumi and standard couscous or rice for the pearl couscous.
Skip the socially distanced shopping experience at the fancy chocolate store, and make your own box-worthy treats instead. David Tanis’s recipe is easy to follow and fun to customize.
A perfectly seared scallop is a fine thing, indeed, and Colu Henry’s pasta with burst tomatoes and herbs is packed with them. It takes time and patience to get that golden crust, so let the pan get very hot before adding the scallops, then leave them alone for a couple of minutes before checking for doneness.
Molly O’Neill brought this recipe to the Times back in 1997, and it still holds up. It’s as simple as can be: Slather both sides of some salted chops with Dijon mustard, crushed cumin seeds (or ground cumin if that’s what you’ve got) and black pepper; sear in a hot pan; then finish in the oven. If you think of it, brine the chops a day in advance. (Sam Sifton’s star anise brine is perfect for this.)
These genius bars from Genevieve Ko strike the balance between salty and sweet, and they’re ripe for improvisation. Use a mixture of bittersweet, semisweet, milk or white chocolate. Decorate with sprinkles or colorful candies. One NYT Cooking editor pressed broken Oreos into the melted chocolate and was pretty happy about it.
Champagne, bitters, lemon juice and maple syrup — that’s all it takes to make this sparkly beverage from Mark Bittman. (Top with a ripe raspberry, if you like.)
Recipe: Champagne Cocktail
“BIG WIN” wrote one reader about Alexa Weibel’s vegan version of the classic Italian dish. Pasta cooking water, store-bought cashew butter, nutritional yeast, white miso paste and toasted crushed peppercorns come together to make a creamy, dairy-free sauce that doesn’t feel like a compromise.
Recipe: Vegan Cacio e Pepe
A Dutch baby, which is also known as a German oven pancake, is like a giant popover. This one, from Florence Fabricant, is wonderful served with maple syrup or confectioners’ sugar, or topped with fresh fruit.
Recipe: Dutch Baby
Mousse has a reputation for being fussy, but this one is not. It originated in a 1980s Junior League cookbook and came to The Times through the cook Monica Stolbach, via the pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz. You don’t have to separate the egg yolks and whites; instead, you pour hot sugar syrup into a blender with chocolate and whole eggs. Blend for a bit, then fold the mixture into softly whipped cream.
Fried eggs are good. Melissa Clark’s fried eggs with frico edges are next level. Don’t use preground Parmesan here. Grate the cheese on the largest holes of your grater, and use a nonstick skillet or well-seasoned cast-iron pan to achieve crispy perfection. Serve the eggs over a pile of fresh arugula with well-buttered toast.
Recipe: Crispy Parmesan Eggs