With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s the perfect opportunity to plan a special evening… using the love language of food!
There’s something so nurturing and intimate about cooking at home, especially when the dishes are crafted with loving hands and shared intentions.
Whether it’s a night for you and your special someone, gathering your girlfriends for a Galentine’s feast, or even a soul-nourishing meal for one, it’s the time to celebrate all the little things that make life heartwarming.
I’m sharing three of my favourite recipes that are equal parts delicious and easy to whip up, using simple, budget-friendly ingredients you can find in your kitchen.
Cherry Tomato Pasta
Is pasta your love language? I absolutely adore a simple yet delicious dish that brings out all the vibrant flavours while keeping things nutritious. Elevate this dish with your protein of choice – prawns, fish, chicken or lentils work perfectly.
Time to cook: 30
3 cloves garlic
750g (26oz) cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ bunch basil, leaves picked, approximately 1 large handful
1 Birdseye red chilli, finely diced
1 tsp sea salt
160g (5.6oz) pasta of choice, we used Barilla Spaghetti no.5
Parmesan cheese, to serve
Smash the garlic and remove the peel.
Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add a generous pinch of sea salt.
Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Use one that has a lid. Pour in some olive oil, you want enough to cover the base of the pan. Once the oil is heated add in the smashed garlic. Toss the garlic through the oil to infuse it. You don’t want the garlic to brown. Then add in the finely diced chilli and toss again.
Carefully pour the tomatoes into the pan and toss to coat in the olive oil. Allow to simmer for a few minutes until the skins of the tomatoes start to break down and blister.
Cook the pasta for 8 minutes or as per the packet instructions.
Add a ladle of pasta water to the tomatoes and cover with the lid. Leave the tomatoes to cook down for a few minutes. Then use a fork to squash the tomatoes and release all of the juices. If there is still a large amount of liquid remaining, continue to simmer uncovered. Otherwise, cover with the lid again and cook for a few more minutes until further reduced.
Add in the basil leaves and a pinch of sea salt. Stir to coat. Add in the cooked pasta and toss to coat.
Transfer to serving platters and garnish with grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Layered Hummus Dip
Say goodbye to plain old hummus! This is such a fun and festive way to serve your favourite dip, and gather friends and family around the table. It’s full of colour, crunch, and bursting with fresh flavours – all you need are some delicious corn chips to serve with!
Time to cook: 15
Serves: 6, as a side
500g (17oz) hummus
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cucumber, finely diced
1/8 red onion, finely diced
¼ bunch parsley, leaves & stems finely chopped
10 Kalamata olives, finely diced
½ cup pomegranate arils
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Corn chips, or crackers of choice
Spread the hummus across a serving platter.
Layer the chopped tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, parsley and olives on top. Finish with a sprinkle of pomegranate arils, lemon rind and extra virgin olive oil.
Serve with corn chips or crackers or choice.
Cheat’s Prawn Paella
My favourite fuss-free, one-pan twist on classic prawn paella! It’s bursting with those beloved smoky flavours, a dash of paprika and a beautiful blend of aromatic spices.
Whether you’re creating this gluten-free dish alongside your partner or sharing the warmth with friends, it’s perfect for anyone looking to infuse their evening with love and good taste. If you’re vegetarian, just leave out the prawns and add a hearty touch of lentils or a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
220g prawns, deveined and peeled
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp paprika
1 zucchini, chopped
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
1 ½ cup arborio rice
10 kalamata olives
4 cup vegetable stock
3 cups baby spinach
1 lemon, juiced & zested
½ bunch chives
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted, omit for nut-free
Heat the olive oil in a large lidded fry pan. Add the red onion, chilli and half the garlic. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until the onion has softened and starts to caramelise. Add the tomato paste and paprika and fry for two minutes whilst stirring. Add the zucchini and tomatoes and sauté for 2 minutes. Next add the olives and rice. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
When the rice is almost done, heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining garlic to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the prawns and season with sea salt and black pepper. Cook for 3 minutes on one side before flipping and cooking for a further minute. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Remove the lid from the rice and add the spinach to the pan. Stir through to wilt. Cover and leave to sit for 5 minutes with the heat off. Remove the lid and add the prawns in and stir to heat. Garnish with lemon juice, chives and toasted pine nuts.