As the weather warms up, it’s hard to plan the perfect date night menu. To replace the hearty, stick-to-your-ribs fare of winter, start in the grocery store and shop the perimeter or the outside edge of your market — especially for fresh produce and fresh seafood, like grouper.
This is where you will find the freshest, healthiest and sometimes, even the least expensive food items. As you’re preparing your menu, whether it’s several courses or a more casual affair, keep some important tips in mind.
Use fresh herbs and spices
When cooking with herbs and spices, fresh are always best. If you’re using dried seasonings, make sure they are the freshest possible. The only dried seasoning I use is freshly ground pepper.
Use the freshest ingredients possible
Try to plan a menu based on ingredients that are available seasonally. Avoid canned, processed or preserved ingredients.
Don’t add fat to your menu
No one wants to feel weighed down on a special night. Grill, steam, braise, stir-fry or roast foods instead of frying. To add bulk to your meal without calories, add more vegetables and legumes (peas, beans and lentils) to your menu.
Skip the sodium
To avoid post-dinner bloating, use reduced-sodium soy sauce and tomatoes. When you’re finished cooking, don’t automatically salt your food. Taste it first to see if it needs seasoning.
Slim down your recipes
When a recipe calls for cream, substitute with Greek yogurt, low-fat yogurt, skim milk or soy milk. Select lean cuts of beef and pork. If preparing chicken, select skinless.
Use nonstick spray or olive or canola oil instead of butter or margarine. If you’re serving cheese as an appetizer or in recipes, select lower-fat options. If you’re serving warmed bread, choose whole grain.
Make the meal a special occasion
Set the table and create a relaxing ambiance to enjoy your food. This will give you the opportunity to eat slowly and savor every bite. Of course, don’t forget why you’re there. Laugh, talk and have fun. The more you talk, the slower you will eat and enjoy the meal.
Date Night Dinner Menu for Two:
Grouper with Mint-Red Pepper Relish (recipe below)
- Grouper with Mint-Red Pepper Relish
- Serves 2
- Prep: 15 minutes
- Cook: 12 minutes
- What You Need
- ¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, divided
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 (6-ounce) grouper or cod fillets
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Stir together bell pepper, onion, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, Dijon and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Season both sides of fish with remaining chopped fresh mint, salt and pepper. Drizzle with remaining lemon juice.
- Heat remaining olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-heat. Cook 4 to 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with Mint-Red Pepper Relish.