CUPID'S ANNUAL MISSION
A VALENTINE'S DAY VEGAN DINNER
Includes Recipes Below
Without a little romance, life would certainly be missing those shared moments of tenderness and passion that make us feel special. Thoughts of love bring contentment to the heart, and add fervor to our dreams. Love makes us smile more often, makes the heart beat a little faster, and sparks our life to know that someone cares about us.
Valentine's Day reminds us how fortunate we are to celebrate an entire day devoted to affairs of the heart. While some may think Valentine's Day ought to be celebrated more often, Cupid knows that stoking the fires of love with extra special attention once a year is just right. On Valentine's Day people in love make the effort to do extraordinary things for each other they might not do otherwise. Lovers whisper expressions of endearment to their beloved, words that they might not use ordinarily. This unique holiday puts romance on a pedestal and steams the heart with powerful emotion.
While each pair of lovers recognizes Valentine's Day in different ways, the one thing they have in common is the desire to please that special person in their lives. In planning a Valentine celebration at home, set the scene for romance to bring pleasure to all of the senses. You may choose to put on some soft music to please the ears, candlelight to create soft light for the eyes, flowers and potpourri to provide delightful fragrance, or poetry for the romantic at heart--those things that symbolize sentiment.
Treat your lover or those who are special to an exceptional home-cooked dinner that's full of lusty flavors and aromas. Some couples even enjoy preparing meals together. Welcome the occasion by toasting with a glass of your favorite wine or sparkling apple cider served in long-stemmed glasses. Then serve a dish of hot or cold Eggplant Cornucopias, a succulent appetizer that combines eggplant with seasoned garbanzo beans in a unique presentation. Perhaps a crackling fire sets the stage for romance. If so, this tasty first course makes a perfect fireside starter.
Valentine's Day can also be a special day to share with friends or family menbers who are important in your life. Your effort to make them feel appreciated will win their hearts and bring them even closer.
A Sweetheart Salad of baby greens with plenty of colorful, crunchy carrots, radishes, and jicama topped with a zesty Avocado Caesar Dressing offers a sensuous, light beginning with its varied textures and flavors.
The hearty, brightly colored entrée works magic in the love arena with pleasing aromas and tantalizing tang. Passionate Pineapple Tempeh embraces the tropical island flavors of ginger, garlic, and soy sauce with the sweetness of pineapple to create a distinctive dish that blooms with flavor. Decorated with bright red bell pepper hearts that appear to dance on the plate, the visual feast expresses romantic intentions.
Also gracing the plate is Cupid's Favorite Quinoa, the ancient grain of the Incas, dotted with roasted tomatoes and onions and heightened with a hint of cinnamon. Steamed Asparagus Spears lend an earthy green accompaniment while Roasted Beet Hearts offer a deep red color accent and plenty of sassy flavor.
Wrapping the evening in romance, our Love Tart is definitely the choice for the impassioned raspberry aficionados. Filled with spiced pears and raspberries, the tart is complemented with a romantic bleeding heart Raspberry Almond Sauce.
A warm embrace and a sip of warming, fruity liqueur by the fireside combine to form special memories of romance on this Valentine's Day.
Valentine Dinner Menu
Our appetizer recipe makes considerably more than two lovers will want to nibble for a first course, but the cornucopias are so flavorful you'll welcome the leftovers the next day. Made with large eggplants, the cornucopias can even be served as an entrée.
Because these little babies are quite messy, be sure to serve with plenty of napkins. When time is limited, you can make these a day ahead and serve them hot or cold. As a bonus, the garbanzo filling is versatile enough to make a zesty dip for veggies or toasted pita wedges.
Yield: Makes enough filling to stuff about 12 eggplant cornucopias
1 red bell pepper, quartered
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 green onions, white part only, minced
Nothing quite compares to the crisp snap of a freshly prepared salad with its multi shades of green and satisfying crunchy add-ins. Because of their high water content, raw vegetables provide a much-needed lightness to a large meal.
Yield: 2 servings
1 small carrot, shredded
1 cup (240 ml) diced jicama
4 radishes, sliced
8 cherry tomatoes
Combine the lettuce, carrot, jicama, and radishes in an attractive bowl, and toss well. Divide into two portions, and garnish each with the cherry tomatoes. Serve with Avocado Caesar Dressing on the side.
Rich with color, tantalizing in flavor, and pleasing with creamy satin texture, avocado makes the perfect base for a tangy salad dressing. The recipe makes a generous portion to enjoy over other dishes like baked potatoes, grains, or steamed vegetables.
AVOCADO CAESAR DRESSING
Yield: 2 1/2 cups (600 ml)
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) water
1/2 cup (120 ml) lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegan Parmesan alternative
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Charm your lover with a dish that captivates the heart at first glance. Who could resist a meal with sublime flavors and dancing red hearts? Easy to prepare, this dish will quietly marinate for several hours while you assemble other recipes for the meal.
PASSIONATE PINEAPPLE TEMPEH
Yield: 6 servings
1/3 cup (80 ml) water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2-inch (3.5 cm) piece of ginger root, peeled and grated
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (240 ml) crushed pineapple with natural juices
2 tablespoons cornstarch
The ancient grain of the Incas comes to life dressed in roasted tomatoes and onions and accented with a complement of cinnamon. Simple to prepare, this dish gives the impression of a more complex preparation.
CUPID'S FAVORITE QUINOA
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 medium, onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper
1 cup (240 ml) quinoa
Always a welcome addition to any meal, fresh asparagus, wearing its handsome shade of rich, warm green, is the perfect choice to complement our entrée. When ranking vegetables in order of favorites, people will frequently list asparagus on the top. It's no surprise--asparagus is simply delicious.
Yield: 2 to 3 servings
Pinch of salt (optional)
How sweet, you might say! And they are. Little color accents that just happen to taste great, these heart-shaped roasted beet slices remind two lovers that Valentine's Day is all about sharing those special feelings that touch the heart.
ROASTED BEET HEARTS
Yield: 2 to 3 servings
Our Love Tart is as captivating as it sounds. Sweet, yet saucy, this tantalizing dessert will win your lover's heart at first bite. Because this recipe makes only three delectable tarts, you may need to double or triple the recipe for serving a group.
WITH RASPBERRY ALMOND SAUCE
Yield: 3 love tarts
1 12-ounce (340g) package frozen raspberries, thawed and divided
1/3 cup (80 ml) plus 1 tablespoon organic sugar
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup (120 ml) almond meal
2 tablespoons organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) organic canola oil
1/3 cup (80 ml) cold water
Raspberry Almond Sauce
1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 2 tablespoons organic sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
Combine all the sauce ingredients in the food processor and puree completely. Transfer the sauce to a 1-quart (1 liter) saucepan and warm gently. Transfer to a attractive serving bowl and bring to the table to spoon over the tarts. Makes 1 cup (240 ml) of sauce.
Keeping the romance of the evening well-stoked, finish the meal by sipping Peach Brandy served in long-stemmed liqueur glasses. Possibly you have a favorite liqueur you prefer instead of brandy. The warming effect of a sweet liqueur or brandy does wonders for adding a special glow to the cheeks and encouraging thoughts of tender passion. According to the winged cherub, Cupid, sweet, sentimental thoughts of love are the perfect ending for a perfect Valentine's Day.