Clams with Pancetta, Onion and Basil for Maine Course Credit: Sarah Walker Caron / BDN

Like many holidays during the pandemic, Valentine’s Day this year will likely look much different than it has in years passed. You may not feel comfortable going out for a fancy romantic dinner at your favorite restaurant, but you can recreate the experience at home.

There are a number of little things that you can do to make a simple home meal a little more gourmet. You can set the mood by laying out a nice tablecloth, lighting candles and putting on some music, or make small adjustments in your cooking and plating that will make even an average meal look gourmet.

Along with that, though, it is worth tackling a new recipe in order to make Valentine’s Day this year feel a little more special. Here are 11 recipes we recommend for a romantic home dinner.

Scallops with pancetta and saffron

Scallops are surprisingly easy to prepare. With the addition of pancetta and rich saffron, suddenly this already elegant dish is taken to the next level. Here is a recipe for scallops with pancetta and saffron you can use as a main course this Valentine’s Day.

Blender hollandaise sauce is an easy recipe to make for drizzling on spring vegetables. Credit: Sandy Oliver / BDN

Homemade hollandaise

Looking to punch up your roasted vegetables and make them a little more decadent? By simply mixing melted butter, egg yolk, lemon juice and salt in a blender, you can make a rich hollandaise that works with most green vegetables, fish, chicken, even steak. We recommend it on a plate of roasted asparagus as a side dish. Check out this recipe for homemade hollandaise sauce to try for yourself.

Barley Risotto with Caramelized Onions, Sauteed Mushrooms and Roasted Red Peppers for Maine Course. Credit: Sarah Walker Caron / BDN

Barley risotto with caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and roasted red peppers

Traditional risotto requires great patience, and a bit of time to render it dreamily creamy — perfect to show your devotion to your significant other. This recipe uses barley, an inexpensive whole grain with a nutty flavor and firmer texture, and the caramelized onions melt into the creamy sauce that’s dotted with meaty sauteed mushrooms and sweet roasted red peppers. Try this recipe for barley risotto with caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and roasted red peppers.

Asian-style steamed mussels

Not only are mussels a known aphrodisiac, but this dish will be fun to share with your dinner date. Plus, the twist on the classic garlic and butter mussels are usually prepared with make these steamed molluscs seem extra special. Make sure you have plenty of bread to sop up the spicy juices. Here’s how to make Asian-style steamed mussels.

Creamy Garlic Fettuccine with Bacon and Roasted Red Peppers. Credit: Sarah Walker Caron / BDN

Creamy garlic fettuccine with bacon and roasted red peppers

No need to go to an Italian restaurant with this recipe on hand. This fettuccine has all of the hallmarks of a gourmet meal from the comfort of your home. Here’s the recipe for creamy garlic fettuccine with bacon and roasted red peppers that is sure to satisfy.

Clams with pancetta, onions and basil

Clams are another easy-to-prepare romantic seafood dish. Browning peppery pancetta browns, releases fat to cook the onions, white wine adds a splash of freshness and bright basil rounds the palette out for a truly decadent meal, no salt or paper needed. Try this recipe for clams with pancetta, onions and basil for an elegant Valentine’s Day for a meal to remember.

Broiled Teriyaki Salmon for Maine Course. Credit: Sarah Walker Caron / BDN

Broiled teriyaki salmon with spring onion rice

This quick and easy recipe pairs marinated salmon with a lightly flavored rice that disappears quickly. It will taste so good, you will be surprised that it is so easy. It may even become a regular home date night staple. Pair this recipe for broiled teriyaki salmon with spring onion rice with a nice glass of white wine for a perfect, romantic Valentine’s dinner. If you can’t find spring onions, substitute scallions.

Mini strawberry cheesecakes

No Valentine’s meal would be complete without dessert. These individually sized cheesecakes are little bites of deliciousness to be enjoyed with friends and loved ones. They are a little bit lighter, so you can indulge — it is Valentine’s Day, after all. Bonus points: strawberries are another known aphrodisiac. Whip up a batch of these mini strawberry cheesecakes to see for yourself.

Blender Chocolate Mousse. Credit: Sandy Oliver / BDN

Chocolate mousse

Chocolate and Valentine’s Day are a perfect pair. This chocolate mousse is easy to make in a blender, but also so decadent that you will forget how easy it was to make. Here’s how to prepare chocolate mousse for you and your partner.

Chocolate Pie with a Chocolate Crust for Valentine’s Day. Credit: Sandy Oliver / BDN

Chocolate pie

If you want to stay in the chocolate theme but want something a little more challenging, try this recipe for chocolate pie. It is thick and creamy, less like a pudding or a mousse than other chocolate pies. You and your sweetheart are sure to enjoy it.

No matter what you make, a little extra effort in your Valentine’s Day meal is the most important thing to make the day special.