Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to host a themed dinner party for cherished friends or a special sweetheart. And if you’re cooking for any vegans or vegetarians this year, these recipes have got you covered. From celebratory Stuffed Red Pepper Boats to romantic Raspberry Fudge Truffles, Cupid himself couldn’t resist this healthy and vibrant meal!
Combining colorful cuisine, satisfying flavors and a chocolaty dessert, here are some of my favorite recipes for a festive holiday dinner. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Red pepper halves are stuffed with rice, marinara sauce, capers and mushrooms in this delicious entrée. Any sweet pepper variety may be used for this recipe, but red peppers are the perfect choice for Valentine’s Day.
Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)
- 1¼ cups short- or long-grain brown rice, rinsed
- 2¾ cups filtered or spring water
- ½ vegan bouillon cube, crumbled
- 1½ cups marinara sauce, plus more as needed
- 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, diced
- 2 heaping tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
- 1½ tablespoons wheat germ, plus more as needed (see Chef’s Note)
- 2 sweet red bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
- Put rice, water and crumbled bouillon cube in a medium saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 50 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff the rice with a fork. Cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Note: Rice may be prepared up to 48 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator until use.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Spread 3/4 cup marinara sauce in an even layer in the bottom of a casserole dish that is large enough to hold four pepper halves. Put the cooked brown rice, mushrooms, capers, 3/4 cup marinara sauce and wheat germ in a large bowl. Stir to combine. If the mixture seems dry, add more marinara, 1/4 cup at a time.
- Fill each pepper half with one quarter of the rice mixture. Put the peppers in the prepared casserole dish. Tent the peppers with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the rice is slightly golden. Let the peppers rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Leeks with Raisins
The delicate flavor of leeks is complemented by the inviting taste of raisins. You may use any variety of raisins that you prefer, but I like the common dark raisins best.
Ingredients (Makes 2 servings)
- 4 leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned thoroughly and thinly sliced
- ½ cup raisins
- ¼ cup vegetable broth, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Put the leeks, raisins, vegetable broth and olive oil (if using) in a medium skillet. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more broth as needed if the leeks become dry.
- Cook until the leeks are soft and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Thick and creamy in texture, this bisque is a true showstopper. Perfect for a cold-weather meal, the butternut squash assures a velvety consistency and buttery taste.
Ingredients (Makes 6 to 8 servings)
- 6 cups cubed butternut squash (1-inch cubes)
- 4 cups cauliflower florets
- ½ cup chopped onion (about 1 small onion)
- 1 teaspoon Italian or all-purpose seasoning
- 2 apples, peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2½ cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- Fit a steamer basket into a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 inches of cold water, then add the squash. Cover, bring to a boil and steam for 7 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower and onion. Sprinkle with the Italian or all-purpose seasoning and steam for 20 minutes or until the squash and cauliflower are both very soft.
- Put the squash mixture in a large bowl. Let cool for 15 minutes.
- Add the apples, cinnamon, ginger and salt, and stir to coat. Put half of the mixture in a blender. Add 1¼ cups vegetable broth and 1 tablespoon maple syrup and process until smooth. Pour into a soup pot.
- Put the second half of the squash mixture in the blender. Add the remaining 1¼ cups vegetable broth and 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and process until smooth. Add to the soup pot, and then stir the two batches together. If the soup seems too thick, add more vegetable broth to taste.
- Put the pot over medium-low heat, cover and simmer, stirring often, until heated through, about 10 minutes. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. This soup may be made up to 24 hours ahead of time. If making in advance, let the soup cool after blending, then pour the cooled soup into an airtight container and refrigerate.
Chef’s Note: To reheat the soup, pour it into a pot. If soup seems too thick, add more vegetable broth, to taste. Cook for about 15 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring often, until heated through.
These truffles combine raspberry and dark chocolate to make the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert.
Ingredients (Makes 8 to 10 truffles)
- 2 heaping tablespoons whole-fruit raspberry preserves
- 3½ ounces vegan dark chocolate (snack bar, not unsweetened baking chocolate)
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1 teaspoon raw unsweetened dried coconut flakes, for garnish (optional)
- 3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
- Line a mini-muffin tin with 8 to 10 festive paper liners. Drain off any excess liquid from the raspberry preserves and put the preserves in a large bowl.
- Melt the vegan chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat.
- Pour the melted chocolate into the raspberry preserves and stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in the raisins.
- Mound the mixture into the mini-muffin cups, dividing it evenly, using a small scoop. Top each truffle with a bit of coconut.
- Refrigerate for about 3 hours or until firm. Dust the truffles with cocoa powder. Serve chilled.
For more vegan recipes, tune in to the fourth season of The Jazzy Vegetarian Tuesdays at 12:30 p.m. on OPB TV.