Valentine’s Day Dinner: Soup, Salmon and Risotto

25 Feb

The quickest way to my boyfriends heart is with food, so for this Valentine’s Day, I made him dinner. This was no ordinary dinner, it was a classy, fancy, restaurant-quality affair that I actually managed to not burn.

If you’ve got someone in your life to impress, here’s a meal that’ll do the trick.

First course: Butternut squash soup

Main course: Salt and pepper salmon, steamed asparagus and mushroom risotto

I know that sounds incredibly involved, but I was actually surprised by its ease for how scary it sounds. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through the steps.

How to peel a butternut squash

How to peel a butternut squash

Butternut Squash Soup Ingredients: (Serves 3)

  • 1 Butternut squash (About 2 pounds)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • Half a medium onion
  • 4 Cups chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Nutmeg (if you have it)

Step 1: Peel and seed the butternut squash. This is the hardest step of the recipe, so don’t let it discourage you. My cheap-o peeler couldn’t make it through the skin of the squash, so I settled for hacking away at the skin with my chef’s knife. It wasn’t pretty, but got the job done.

Step 2: Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes and set aside.

Simmer squash in chicken stock

Step 3: Chop the onion and add it to a large pot with the butter on medium-low heat. Cook until the onion turns translucent.

Step 4: Add squash and stock to pot and simmer until the squash is soft (about 20 minutes).

Step 5: Pour contents into a blender and blend until smooth. Return soup to pot, add salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Step 6: Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

This is a simple recipe that really adds to the wow factor of a meal. Also, I suggest making this a day or two ahead of time because it holds up well and will lighten the cooking load on Valentine’s Day.

Mushroom Risotto Ingredients: (Serves 3)

Mushrooms and onion for risotto

Mushrooms and onion for risotto

  • 5 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1 Package baby portobellos (any mushroom will do)
  • 1/2 Medium onion (chopped)
  • 3 1/2 Cups of chicken broth
  • 5/8 Cup arborio rice (must be arborio rice)
  • 1/4 Cup dry white wine
  • Parmesan cheese

I know the idea of making risotto will have most people dropping their chef’s knives and running the other direction. Don’t be afraid! This was my first time attempting risotto and it wasn’t difficult, as much as it was time consuming. Just know that this will take about 30 minutes of intensive stirring and there’s nothing you can do about it. Oh the things we do for love.

Step 1: Chop portobello’s length wise. Melt 2 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan. Add portobello’s and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and starting to brown. Set aside.

Portobello mushroom risotto

Portobello mushroom risotto

Step 2: Warm chicken broth in a saucepan. Keep warmed on stove.

Step 3: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat and add onion. Cook until translucent (About 3 minutes).

Step 4: Turn heat to medium, add rice and stir until the edges become translucent (About 3 minutes).

Step 5: Add white wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed (About 1 minute).

Step 6: Add1/3 cup of warm chicken broth and stir until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding chicken broth at 1/3 cup cupfuls, stirring until all broth is absorbed and then adding more. Continue until half of the broth is used.

Step 7: Stir in sauteed mushrooms then continue adding the rest of the broth in 1/3 cup cupfuls.

Step 8: Once all of the broth is absorbed, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

And presto, mushroom risotto! Other than the mild carpel tunnel from 30 minutes of stirring, it wasn’t that bad right? You may want to kill me now, but taste the risotto and you’ll know it was worth it. Luckily the rest of the dinner is extremely simple.

Salt and Pepper Salmon Ingredients: (Serves 2)

Salt and pepper salmon fillets

Salt and pepper salmon fillets

  • 2 Salmon fillets (Frozen and defrosted is fine)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Step 1: Melt butter in a saute pan on medium heat.

Step 2: Place salmon in pan skin side down. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 3: Cook about 4 minutes on one side, flip and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 4 minutes.

Step 4: Finish with lemon and serve.

Not too bad, right? And it only get’s simpler.

Steamed Asparagus Ingredients: (Serves 4)

Butternut squash soup, salt and pepper salmon, steamed asparagus and mushroom risotto

Butternut squash soup, salt and pepper salmon, steamed asparagus and mushroom risotto

  • 1 Bushel of asparagus

Step 1: Cut asparagus to fit in mini-steamer.

Step 2: Place in mini-steamer.

Step 3: Steam.

Step 4: Enjoy.

And that’s how you make a restaurant-quality Valentine’s Day dinner to impress! This meal is a little involved, but remember that if things go wrong, it’s the thought that counts.

Have any other good Valentine’s Day meals? Leave a comment and let me know what I can make for next year!

2 Responses to “Valentine’s Day Dinner: Soup, Salmon and Risotto”

  1. Judy Matusky February 26, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Great tips and very easy to follow. Love the balance of deliciously healthy ingredients.


  1. Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake Valentine’s Day Dessert | Cooking On Empty - February 14, 2014

    […] my food loving-boyfriend and I are making dinner together this Valentine’s Day. Last year we made butternut squash soup, mushroom risotto, and grilled salmon. Never ones to settle, this year’s menu consists of bacon wrapped dates, mushroom and scallop […]

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