Single with no desire to mingle? It’s the perfect day to practice self-love and to treat yourself to this delicious 3-course solo dinner menu. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Starter: Phyllo veggie parcels
Cooking time ± 90 minutes
1 tbsp olive oil
100g mushrooms, sliced
2 baby marrows, sliced lengthways
1 brinjal, sliced lengthways
3 tbsp tinned chopped tomatoes
6 sheets of ready-made phyllo pastry, thawed
20g butter, melted
60g ricotta or cream cheese
10g Origanum or thyme, finely chopped
10g parsley, finely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a muffin tray.
2. Heat oil in a pan over high heat. Fry the vegetables for about 10 minutes until al dente.
3. Stack the phyllo sheets on top of each other and cut them into 4 squares. Make a pile of squares, with 4 layers of phyllo, brushing melted butter between the layers. Repeat until you have 6 piles.
4. Divide the veggies between the 6 piles, topping each with some ricotta and herbs. Bring the edges of the pastry together and twist to form a bundle.
5. Place each bundle in a hole of the muffin tray. Bake for 12–15 minutes, until golden.
6. Serve with a green salad.
Main course: Butternut and salmon zoodles
Serves 1 |Cooking time: 30 minutes
100g butternut, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
175g zucchini noodles
1 cup baby spinach
60 ml pumpkin seeds, toasted
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Toss the butternut with 1 tbsp oil, honey and garlic. Arrange on a baking tray and roast for 25 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
3. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in a pan and fry the salmon for 4 minutes, until it is just cooked through, turning halfway. Keep it warm.
4. Cook baby marrow noodles as per package instructions, then place in a bowl.
5. Toss butternut and spinach together, and pile on top of the noodles. Flake the salmon over, scatter with the pumpkin seeds and serve.
Quick tip: If you don’t have a spiralizer, simply shave strips from your baby marrows with your potato peeler.
Boozy dessert: Chocolate martini
Serves 4 |Total time 45 min + 2 hr refrigeration
150g dark chocolate, chopped
3 cups Baileys Irish Cream liqueur
1 cup chocolate liqueur
1. Place 4 martini glasses in the freezer. This will ensure your drink is kept perfectly chilled.
2. Carefully melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave until smooth.
3. Remove the glasses from the freezer.
4. Using a spoon, spread a layer of chocolate in the shape of a half-moon on the inside of each glass.
5. Combine the liqueurs in a cocktail shaker or screw-top jar filled with about 1 cup of ice. Shake until thoroughly chilled.
6. Strain the martini into the prepared glasses.
7. Serve your martinis with a few gingerbread stars (perfect for dipping) dusted lightly with icing sugar.
3-ingredient chocolate mousse and quick peanut honeycomb
Serves 4 | Total Time 20 Min Plus Refrigeration Time
FOR THE MOUSSE
Dark chocolate, chopped 4 slabs
White marshmallows, chopped 200g Cream 2 cups
FOR THE HONEYCOMB
Peanuts, lightly salted and toasted 1⁄2 cup
Bicarbonate of soda 1⁄2 tsp
White sugar 1 cup
FOR THE MOUSSE
1. Add the chocolate, marshmallows and half the cream to a large heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water.
2. Stir the ingredients until they have all melted, about 10–12 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
4. In a separate bowl, whip the remaining cream until soft peaks form
5. Fold the cream into the chocolate mixture until its combined well and smooth.
6. Scoop into serving bowls or glasses and chill overnight until set.
FOR THE HONEYCOMB
1. Arrange the peanuts on a lined baking tray. Set aside.
2. Place the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not stir it.
3. Carefully tilt the pan from side to side to melt the sugar evenly.
4. Once the sugar turns a deep gold colour, add the bicarbonate of soda.
5. Stir to combine and pour onto the tray of peanuts.
6. Cool until honeycomb has set and hardened.
7. Break into shards and serve as a topping with the chocolate mousse.
Recipe & styling: Sjaan Van Der Ploeg
Photography: Zhann Solomons