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The following are several suggestions for a romantic dinner for two that can be prepared for under $20. All recipes have easy to find ingredients and are relatively simple to prepare. All recipes are meant to feed two people. You can use either appetizer with either entree.

Appetizers

ROASTED VEGETABLES

1 large red bell pepper (cut into 1/4" strips)
1 large yellow bell pepper (cut into 1/4" strips)
1 medium red or white onion (sliced into 1/2" rings)
1 medium yellow squash (sliced lengthwise 1/8" thick)
1 small Japanese eggplant (sliced lengthwise 1/8" thick)
1 teaspoon each of thyme and rosemary
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Clean and prepare all vegetables. Lay them out flat on a cookie sheet or a sheet of tin foil.

Sprinkle vegetables with thyme and oregano (and a dash of salt, if desired) and drizzle with the olive oil.

Put them under the broil (so the flame is above the vegetables) for approximately 10 minutes. They should start to brown by this point. Turn them over and cook for 5-10 more minutes until they are tender and have a grilled appearance.

Take out of the oven and let them cool to room temperature.

To serve, spread out the vegetables on a platter and sprinkle with fresh rosemary.


BRUSCETTA

1 half loaf of crusty Italian bread (6 slices approximately 1/4" thick)
2 medium beefsteak tomatoes (or 4 plum tomatoes)
(chopped into bite size pieces)
2 cloves of garlic (minced very fine)
1/3 cup of fresh basil (chopped coarsely)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

In a large bowl, mix the chopped tomatoes with the garlic, basil and olive oil. Toss lightly.

Toast the bread slightly in the oven at 450 degrees (about 2-3 minutes) until golden brown. Turn over and toast the other side until golden brown.

Spoon the tomato mixture over each piece of toasted bread and serve with a few pieces of basil sprinkles around the edge of the plate.



ENTREES

Lemon-Pepper Chicken With Red Leaf Salad

2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
lemon pepper herb seasoning
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 lemon
Red leaf lettuce (approximately 1/2 head per person)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
dash of garlic powder
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Drizzle each piece of chicken with olive oil.

Coat each piece of chicken with lemon pepper seasoning.

Slice lemon into 1/4 inch slices and put in the pan with the chicken.

Broil chicken for approximately 5-6 minutes on each side, until done.

While chicken is cooking, toss cleaned and cut lettuce with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oil and vinegar. Toss slightly.

Cover each plate with salad. Completely cover the plate (except for the rim).

Slice chicken and place in the middle of the plate (on top of the salad) and serve with a few of the cooked lemon slices for garnish.


Linguini With Olive Oil and Broccoli

1/2 lb. of linguini
1 medium size head of broccoli (just use the crown, cut into small pieces)
4 ounces of chicken broth
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
loaf of crusty bread such as French or Italian

Boil water and cook the linguini

Drain and put aside.

In a large sauté or frying pan, heat a small amount of olive oil.

Start to cook the broccoli in the pan at medium heat. Stir occasionally.

When broccoli starts top get tender, mix in a dash of salt and pepper and the chicken broth.

Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix in the linguine and parmesan cheese. (Gently mix the pasta and other ingredients in the pan you cooked the broccoli.)

Serve in shallow bowls along with crusty bread.

DESERT

Caramelized fruit over ice cream

1 red delicious apple
1 pear (any type)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 scoops vanilla ice cream

Core and slice the apple and pear. Slices should be slightly less than 1/4 inch thick.

In a medium size heated pan, sauté the sugar and butter until they are well blended. Stir constantly to avoid lumps.

Add the sliced fruit and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Fruit and sauce will begin to caramelize.

Serve half the fruit mixture over 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream.