Valentine’s Day may have been co-opted by greeting card companies, chocolate makers, and the romantic love-crowd, but there are so many different kinds of love that I’d argue for a more inclusive approach to this holiday.
There’s the overwhelming, almost visceral love a parent feels for a child. There is the love one feels for fellow humankind—including ones’ co-workers (even whoever it is that steals your Greek yogurt from the office fridge). Then there’s self-love, an important foundation because, without it, it’s hard to practice the other kinds of love.
Regardless of which love you choose to express this Valentine’s Day, you can show it by creating treats that nourish the body and delight the soul (even the soul of the yogurt thief). These vibrantly colored and brightly flavored fruit dishes will chase away the mid-winter blues.
Some of these recipes use fresh, seasonal citrus; others make use of the convenience of frozen berries. Frozen fruit packs offer as much nutrition as fresh fruit.
Start your romantic dinner with a palate cleanser that will create a festive mood whether you’re on your own or with a partner. Coconut water offers electrolytes so you can be ready for any physical activity that may come your way later in the evening. Spike if you like, or leave it non-alcoholic.
- 1 kiwi
- 1½ cups frozen raspberries
- 1 cup chilled coconut water
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1 shot rum or vodka (optional)
- Slice kiwi in half, and gently rub the halved kiwi on the rim of 2 martini glasses, then dip the rims in sugar. Set aside.
- Place the kiwi, raspberries, coconut water, and agave nectar in a blender. Add rum or vodka if desired. Blend until smooth.
- Pour into prepared glasses and serve.
Serves 2 generously. Prep time, 10 minutes.
Frozen Berries with Hot Chocolate Sauce
Adapted from BBC GoodFood
Chocolate is the traditional Valentine’s Day dessert, and no one can dispute the feel-good properties of this storied bean. Like families, who all may be very different but are bound together by affection, this super-easy dessert is a study in contrasts: the healthiness of fruits balanced with a rich sauce; icy frozen berries covered in smooth hot chocolate. It’s usually made with white chocolate, but you can substitute dark chocolate, which has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve moods.
- 1 pound of frozen mixed berries
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 5 ounces best-quality white (or dark) chocolate, chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Divide the bag of berries, placing a quarter of the bag on each of 4 dessert plates. Set aside.
- Place the cream and chocolate in the top of a double boiler and heat gently, stirring until the chocolate melts. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
- Pour the hot chocolate sauce over the frozen berries and serve immediately.
Serves 4. Prep time, 5 minutes; cook time, 10 minutes.
Blood Orange Bars
Sometimes you want to show your affection (and show off your mad cooking skills) to everyone in your department. These blood orange bars, a riff on the traditional lemon bar, fit the bill nicely. The color is right for the holiday, and while they are rich, the tangy citrus filling keeps them from being cloying.
- 2 blood oranges
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), cold, cut into small pieces
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 3 cups flour (divided)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon blood orange zest
- 6 large eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup blood orange juice
- A drop of red food coloring (optional)
- Additional powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Have ready a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
- Zest the blood oranges, and then juice them. Measure 1 cup of juice and 1 tablespoon of zest, and set aside.
- Sift 2 cups of flour and the powdered sugar into a bowl. Add the blood orange zest. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until there are no lumps larger than small peas.
- With floured hands, gather the dough together in the bowl and knead it once or twice. Press the dough into the bottom of the baking dish and ¾ of an inch up the sides.
- Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a bowl, whisk the eggs and granulated sugar until well combined. Stir in the blood orange juice. (If you want a more seasonal red color, add 1 drop of red food coloring.)
- Sift 1 cup of flour over the top, and then stir in until well blended.
- Pour the batter over the baked crust. Bake until set, about 30–35 minutes.
- When cooled, dust with powdered sugar.
Serves 18. Prep time 20 minutes; cook time, 60 minutes.
Miriam Wolf is the editor of The FruitGuys Magazine.