We know you’re slammed right now given the onset of fall — school is back in session, work might have picked up, and holiday preplanning starts now — but please, make time to do a little something for someone special. You deserve that — and they’ll appreciate it.
Luckily, there’s no need to stress out, buy numerous fancy ingredients or spend hours planning the perfect plate. We’ve got some stunners that won’t take you too much time in the kitchen. Bonus: If your partner is down to be your sous-chef, you can have even more fun.
Rustic Heirloom Tomato Crostata, above. Pizza night can be romantic, but you can also up the ante with this easy pie-like crust that creates a buttery, flaky background for ripe late-summer tomatoes. Dollops of goat cheese soften and brown just slightly for some toasty tang. Make two if you’re extra hungry (or want leftovers), because this crostata reheats beautifully.
Cumin-Rubbed Flank Steak With Chimichurri Potatoes. If you’re hankering for a steak, this recipe picks just a few spices to make a quickly cooked flank cut shine. An herbaceous chimichurri sauce brightens up creamy roasted potatoes.
Black Currant-Lacquered Duck Breast. Duck always feels fancy, but fancy doesn’t mean complicated. This recipe has three main steps: Sear the duck, make the sauce and finish the breast in the oven. Serve with a frisee salad for a festive meal.
Almond Gazpacho With Cherries and Flowers (Ajo Blanco). Toss almonds, water, bread, olive oil and garlic — with a dash of good sherry vinegar for acidity — in the blender and you’ve got this elegant showstopper ready! A delicious, cold soup that works with any number of garnishes: We liked cherries, more almonds, edible flowers and baby lettuces. This can be a starter or a main course and happens to be vegan.
Fish Grilled on Citrus. Whether you choose to light up the old grill one last time before the cool weather hits, or stay inside with a grill pan, this simple and flavorful fish will be a hit. A thin bed of sliced limes keeps your protein from sticking to the cooking surface and imparts caramelized citrus flavor.
Polenta With Balsamic Scallion Greens. This vegetarian Dinner in Minutes is far more than the sum of its parts. Who knew that scallions and cherry tomatoes, seasoned with paprika and balsamic, could be so, so flavorful? Swirl the lot into a bowl — delicious.
Vegetables à la Grecque. Pick out whatever baby vegetables suit your fancy, then dress them up in a beautiful sweet-and-sour sauce. This vegan dish can be an appetizer, side dish or, if you add beans or eat with toast, a lovely main course.
Roasted Chicken Thighs With Preserved Lemon and Olives. Preserved lemons are a glamorous and low-key upgrade to the simple and delicious lemon. Briny olives and floral notes from preserved lemons make these easily prepared chicken thighs a tasty spin on your usual chicken dinner.
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