Don't panic, Romeo – these speedy meal ideas have got your back

Full of love but short on time? Put down the takeaway menu – you can still pull this off, promise. Here are the best dishes for when you want to woo, but Cupid needs to have his winged skates on.

 

All aboard the romance express! Route: their stomach. Destination: their heart.

 

Red wine and pancetta linguine

Red wine pasta with crispy pancetta and walnuts = the classiest Valentine’s Day dinner this side of Rome. And the best bit? It's ready in just 25 minutes. Boom! 

 

Smoked salmon with dill and fennel pickle

Two forks, one board, no cooking – and a whole lot of ‘whoops, our hands just brushed’ opportunities. Let’s just call it a salmonchanted evening. (Sorry.)

 

Chocolate espresso pots

Like an impatient person’s tiramisu, these perky espresso and biscuit puds are a dessert, coffee and nightcap all in one. Who said true romance couldn’t be efficient? Not us. 

 

Heart-shaped pizza

“I give you my heart,” is what everyone wants to hear on Valentine’s Day. “And look, it’s covered in cheese!” is just a bonus. If you’re really pushed for time you can even make these together and pretend you planned it as a romantic activity all along. You smooth thing.

 

Grilled asparagus with chilli feta

Asparagus is a famous tool of culinary seduction (just think of them as Cupid’s arrows) and this easy-peasy starter will gently turn up the heat. Cheesy, but only in a good way.

 

Cheat’s tournedos Rossini

Let a gorgeous piece of fillet steak do the work, so you don’t have to. With fragrant mushrooms in a creamy Madeira sauce, this cheaty tournedos Rossini is a speedy dinner that no meat-lover could possibly beef about. Just double the quantities for your meal for two.

 

Rhubarb and ginger fool

Only fools rush in… which is just as well, because you’ve got a date to impress. Honeyed rhubarb, ginger biscuits and custard make a dessert that’s more than a trifle delicious.

 

Chocolate-dipped strawberries

Did we mention melted chocolate? These dippy treats are pretty much romance 101 – which is also roughly how many you’ll want to eat.

 

Microwave roasted-garlic risotto with kale

Make the microwave your wingman, with the ultimate cheat’s risotto. Rich, creamy, ready in 30 minutes and no standing over a saucepan = no garlicky facial sauna. Perfect.

 

Chewy triple chocolate cookies

Don’t limit your Valentine’s va-va-voom to just dinner. Another 22 minutes of effort and you could have these perfect triple choc cookies ready to present at the end of the night. It’s almost like you planned it weeks ago.