In this month devoted to love, there is nothing more romantic than sharing the pleasure of sensual foods with a loved one. Of course, a good meal always warms the heart. However, researchers have found that certain foods also raise dopamine levels, which has been linked to an increased sex drive. And, it is well-known lore, if not science, that oysters are aphrodisiacs. However, other foods such as pomegranates, figs, beets and asparagus are also long-believed to be boosters of libido.
So, if you're planning a coo-some, twosome dinner this month, or even tonight for your Valentine, here is a menu sparked by love that could end in an amorous finale.
Pomegranates are a symbol of fertility, and some research has found they can also boost our moods. This drink is a rich red color, like the beautiful hearts that define Valentine’s Day.
2 ounces citron (citrus) vodka
1 ounce Cointreau (or any orange liqueur)
2 ounces pomegranate juice
1/2 ounce lemon juice
Splash of grapefruit juice
Place all five ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until cold, then pour into two chilled martini glasses. Top with a thin slice of lemon on the side or a circular slice of orange.
Raw Oysters on the Half-Shell — With a Special Sauce
Many people have different opinions on how oysters should be served-, though most of us believe oysters are a food for love. When serving them, I think it’s best to keep things simple — just serve them plain. Make sure when buying your oysters that they are not open, the shells are not broken, and they do not evoke an unpleasant odor. They must be carefully cleaned and free of any dirt, sand or shell fragments. Here is a Chesapeake Bay video that shows you everything you need to know about choosing and prepping oysters.
Serves 2 (double oyster amount and sauce recipe for oyster-loving couples)
1 dozen fresh raw oysters (cleaned, shucked, and chilled) on the half shell over ice
1 large lemon, cut into wedges, placed on the side
For the Mignonette sauce:
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Arrange the oysters on a bed of crushed ice with lemon wedges (the acidity of the fruit works well to balance the brininess of the oysters). Mix the three ingredients for the Mignonette sauce and serve in a small bowl on the side for topping the oysters if desired. Or, if preferred, make an easy cocktail sauce with half white horseradish and half ketchup.
This creamy and beautiful risotto with tender lobster tail chunks is perfectly decadent for a romantic dinner.
12 ounce cooked lobster meat, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
3/4 cup white wine
3 cups chicken broth (plus another 1/2 cup if needed)
1/2 cup Half & Half
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wide pot and sauté onions over medium heat until caramelized, about 10-20 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and sauté garlic and shallot for 2-3 minutes. Next, stir in the rice and cook for 3-4 minutes until it becomes translucent. Add wine and cook for another 2 minutes. Slowly stir in enough broth to cover the rice (about 1 1/2 cups). Cook until risotto absorbs the majority of broth, stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan. Add more broth 1/2 cup at a time, until it is again absorbed. The total cooking time on the rice will be roughly 15 minutes once enough broth has been added. Rice should be loose, yet al dente. If it is still hard, add the extra 1/2 cup of broth until it reaches the right consistency. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the cream, butter, parmesan cheese, and seasonings until well blended. Add lobster meat and serve immediately.
Beet Salad With Arugula, Feta, and Toasted Pine Nuts
The beets add the deep red color symbolic of lovely hearts, and the pine nuts contain arginine, which boosts blood circulation.
2 medium-sized beets, washed and stems removed
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups baby arugula
1 scallion. thinly sliced
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup (or more!) toasted pine nuts (you can toast them on a sheet pan under a broiler for 2-3 minutes, stirring once halfway through the process)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Pinch of black pepper
To prepare beets, fill a saucepan with water and add salt. Bring to a boil, then add the beets. Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Remove beets from pan and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Run the beets under cold water and rub off the skin. Slice them into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Layer arugula on two salad plates. Add scallions, beets, feta, and top with the pine nuts. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, and pepper. Drizzle over salad just before serving.
Strawberries Dipped in Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate (which contains antioxidants and caffeine), releases chemicals such as phenethylamine and serotonin into the body — two properties believed to increase libido. Imagine feeding your partner a bite of this sweet and juicy chocolatey fruit ..... how sexy is that?
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 and 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Clean strawberries, keeping stems and leaves on the fruit. Pat dry and set on paper towels at room temperature for at least 20 minutes to get them completely dry (if the fruit is wet, the chocolate will not stick). In a small double boiler, melt chocolate and cream over medium heat. Stir until well mixed and melted. Remove the pan from heat and holding the strawberries by the stem, dip them one at a time into the chocolate. Set on waxed paper to dry. Serve at room temperature or chilled from the refrigerator. *To save time making the dipping sauce, melt dark chocolate in the microwave.
Now, light the candles, cue up some love songs, and sprinkle your red tablecloth with Hershey’s Kisses. And, to all a very good ( and sexy) night!
What's your idea of the most romantic dinner you can imagine? Let us know in the comments below.