Ready to take your date night at home to the next level? Spice things up this spring with these seasonally inspired recipes that are both healthy AND delicious! You just might prefer to stay in for dinner from now on.
1. Lemon and Herb Roasted Chicken
A whole chicken? You can do it! Lemon and herb roasted chicken seems fancy, but it’s actually pretty simple — exactly what you want when looking for healthy dinner recipes for date night. Dining by candlelight is encouraged.
1 whole chicken (about 4 ½ lb)
4 T unsalted butter, room temperature
3 lemons, halved
½ bunch thyme
½ bunch rosemary
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a roasting rack on top. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the outside of the chicken with the softened butter, and stuff the inside with the lemon halves and recommended herbs — season with salt and pepper. Tie the legs of the chicken together with trussing twine and cut the excess string.
Transfer the chicken to the prepared roasting rack and roast until the skin is golden brown — approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F and continue roasting until the chicken is cooked throughout — the meat thermometer should read 165°F. Let the chicken rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving and serving.
2. Steak au Poivre with Cognac Pan Sauce
Are you looking for a fancy-feeling recipe that takes the cake on best easy date night recipes? Then it’s time for steak night! Dress to the nines and don the table with a white cloth to bring that upscale steakhouse vibe into your home.
2 tenderloin steaks, 4-6 oz about 1 ½ in thick
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 T unsalted butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 shallot, sliced
1 c heavy cream
½ c cognac or brandy
¼ c chicken stock
Pat steaks dry with a paper towel and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Generously sprinkle both sides with salt and black pepper, and heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add olive oil and 1 T butter and coat the bottom of the pan as it melts. Carefully place the steaks into the cast-iron skillet. Sear for about 3-4 minutes on each side for medium-rare, adding the second tablespoon of butter when you flip the steaks. When done, remove the steaks from the skillet and let rest.
Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the shallots and cook until translucent. Slowly pour in the cognac while scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Stir in heavy cream and chicken stock. Bring to a low boil to thicken, about 5 minutes. Plate the steaks and drizzle with the pan sauce.
Serve with: Easy oven-roasted asparagus.
Pair with: A classic old-fashioned or bold Cabernet Sauvignon.
Finish with: Speaking of taking the cake… how about Minimalist Baker’s 1-Bowl Vegan Chocolate Cake or just a go-to classic chocolate cake for dessert?
3. Crispy Skillet Salmon with Lemon-Caper Dill Sauce
If you can believe it, this indulgent fish recipe by the Roasted Root is Paleo, Keto, and Whole30 friendly — plus low-carb, gluten-free, and dairy-free — so you can go back for seconds guilt-free. It will be the perfect addition to your list of easy healthy date night recipes.
2 ½ lb salmon fillets
1-2 T avocado or olive oil
1 tsp ground paprika
2 tsp dried dill
¼ tsp sea salt
Creamy Lemon Dill Sauce:
1 c full-fat canned coconut milk
2 tsp lemon zest
2 T lemon juice, to taste
3 T capers
2 tsp dried dill
Heat the oil in a large cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot.
Rinse the salmon filets and pat dry with a paper towel — season with sea salt, dill, and paprika. Place salmon fillets flesh side down, pressing them lightly, so the entire surface comes into contact with the pan. Sear for 3-4 minutes, until crispy and golden. Flip salmon and sear on the other side for 2-3 minutes. Flip the salmon again and cook another 1-2 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, capers, and dill to the pan. Cook until salmon reaches desired done-ness and sauce thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Add salt and/or more lemon juice to taste.
Serve with: This roasted broccoli comes with a little kick thanks to red pepper flakes.
Pair with: A dry Chardonnay or light lager.
Finish with: How about a guilt-free dessert, too? This pretty pink strawberry cake recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and totally delicious!
4. Spring Pea Risotto
Get creative in the kitchen with a next-level dish: risotto! It totally holds up as a main dish. Then keep the creativity flowing after dinner with a Twist at Home at-home painting kit. Best date night ever!
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 c arborio rice
2 c frozen peas, thawed
1 ½ c white cooking wine
2 ½ c chicken broth
1-2 T butter
Cook peas with 1 T butter and set aside. Warm chicken broth in a saucepan over medium-low heat. In a separate pot, heat 1 T olive oil on low. Add in the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent.
Toss in the rice, stirring constantly until rice is coated in the oil. Pour in the white wine and continue to stir. When absorbed, add in 1 cup of the warm broth and stir again. Continue to add broth and stir as the liquid is absorbed — this will probably take about 25 minutes. You may not use all of the broth. The rice should be sticky but al dente (soft at first and firm on the inside). When rice is cooked, stir in the peas. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste.
5. Honey Dijon Pork Tenderloin
This recipe from Food52 takes a little planning ahead to marinate the pork, but the overall execution is a breeze — and the payoff is delicious! It may just become one of your favorite easy date night dinner recipes.
1 pork tenderloin
2 T Dijon mustard
2 T honey
1 T whole grain mustard
1 T soy sauce
1 sprig rosemary, stem removed and chopped
In a large resealable bag, combine both mustards, honey, soy sauce, lemon juice, and rosemary. Seal the bag and shake to combine.
Rinse the meat in cold water, pat dry, and place it into the marinade bag. Squeeze the air out and spread the marinade all over the pork. Marinate the pork in the fridge for 3 hours minimum or overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Remove the pork tenderloin from the marinade and season all sides with kosher salt and pepper.
Heat a large, oven-proof sauté pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil, and sear each side of the tenderloin until golden and crusty — total 10 minutes. Put the pan into the oven and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the meat thermometer reads 137° F.
Remove from the pan, place on a cutting board, cover with foil, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Carve into diagonal pork medallions for serving. Serve with any of the tasty juices that escaped while carving.
Serve with: A side of super-simple sautéed green beans.
Pair with: A light-bodied Pinot Noir or mix up a Greyhound with a sprig of rosemary.
Finish with: Hummingbird Cake or vegan Blueberry Pie Bars would be the perfect end to the perfect date night.
6. Arugula Pesto Pasta
This recipe is rich, flavorful, and packed with a healthy seasonal green — and it might just be the most photogenic pasta you’ve ever seen (hello, date night Insta post). Swing by your local farmer’s market for the freshest arugula. Feel free to sub the suggested pasta with a gluten-free option, whole wheat variety, or even cauliflower gnocchi.
2 c fresh arugula
½ c fresh basil
½ c shaved parmesan
½ c walnuts, toasted
¼ – ½ c olive oil
2 T lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp salt
8 oz cooked tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta
Black pepper, fresh basil leaves, and parmesan for garnish
To toast the walnuts, preheat the oven to 300° F. Spread nuts on a rimmed sheet pan and bake for about 5-7 minutes until lightly browned — keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn. Let cool.
Cook the pasta. When al dente, remove ½ cup pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta (don’t rinse), and set it aside.
Blend toasted walnuts, arugula, basil, parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, and salt with ¼ c olive oil in a food processor. Add more olive oil if the mixture is too dry. Blend until pesto is smooth.
Pour the prepared pesto into a large skillet over medium-low heat. Toss the freshly cooked pasta into the pan plus 1 T pasta water and coat with the pesto. Cook until warm throughout. Serve in bowls and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Top with black pepper, fresh basil leaves, and more parmesan.
Serve with: A fish or crusty bread with olive oil.
Pair with: Pinot Grigio or a dry rosé.
Finish with: Keep dessert simple with your favorite store-bought gelato—or maybe go out for some at your favorite local place.
7. Spring Roll Bowls
Want a recipe that’s fresh, bright, colorful, and healthy? The Spring Roll Bowl below, or this variation from Pinch of Yum with a garlic lime sauce, are two yummy and healthy date night dinner recipes. It’s also quick and easy so that you can continue your date at a Painting with a Twist event.
2 T natural creamy peanut butter
1 T lime juice
1 T pure maple syrup
1 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz brown rice noodles
1 c fresh snow peas, halved
? c frozen edamame
½ c carrot, coarsely shredded
½ cucumber, cut into bite-size strips
2 T radishes, sliced
To make the peanut sauce, grab a small bowl and whisk together peanut butter, lime juice, maple syrup, cilantro, ginger, and garlic. Gradually stir in 2 T water until the sauce is the consistency of maple syrup — season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse well with cold water and drain. Cook edamame according to package directions. Divide noodles between two bowls, and add edamame, snow peas, cucumber, carrot, and radishes to each. Drizzle peanut sauce evenly over bowls.
Top with crushed peanuts, sliced jalapeño peppers, sliced green onions, fresh cilantro, and a spritz of lime juice.
8. Chicken-Salad Salad
Grab a blanket, pack up this meal in a basket, along with a couple more springtime recipes like fruit or pasta salad, and have your date night picnic-style. This dressing feels indulgent but calls for honey and Greek yogurt to keep it on the healthy side — and the recipe is packed with nutritional fruits and nuts.
10 oz mixed greens, such as spring mix
12-16 oz chicken salad, prepared or homemade
½ c strawberries, hulled and sliced
¼ c red grapes, halved
½ c mandarin orange wedges, drained and dried
¼ c candied pecans
¼ c white wine vinegar
¼ c plain Greek yogurt
2 T honey
½ T poppy seeds
1 tsp ground mustard or Dijon
¼ tsp salt
Combine all ingredients. Adjust to taste.
Toss mixed greens in poppyseed dressing. Top with a heaping scoop of chicken salad, strawberries, and pecans.
Pair with: Prosecco or a sparkling rosé.
Finish with: Don’t forget dessert! Make it something easy to transport, like white chocolate chip blondies or these Healthy Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats by Ambitious Kitchen.
9. Green Goddess Spring Salad
This super springy salad should be at the top of every list of healthy springtime dinner recipes. Go vegetarian or add a protein like seared tuna or sautéed shrimp.
Green Goddess Dressing:
1 avocado, pitted and flesh scooped
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoon light tahini
2 tablespoon olive oil
Large handful of fresh basil
1 teaspoon miso paste
Salt & pepper, to taste
Water, to thin
2 heads butter lettuce
1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
1 c fresh green peas (can also use frozen)
1 red beet, peeled
2 T sesame seeds
2 T pumpkin seeds
1 c sprouts
For the dressing:
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Chill until ready to serve.
To prepare the salad:
Boil the peas in a pot of salted water for 5-8 minutes, adding the broccoli for the final 3 minutes until both are tender and bright green. Drain and place into a large bowl with ice and water to stop the cooking.
Remove and discard the outer leaves of the lettuce. Chop remaining leaves into bite-size pieces, rinse and dry. Set aside in a large bowl. Slice the beet and place in the bowl with the lettuce. Drain the peas and broccoli and add to the bowl as well. Pour over the dressing and toss to coat.
10. Homemade Spinach-Artichoke Pizza
Who doesn’t love pizza? It’s even better (and more fun) when you make it together! Spinach and artichoke is a delicious springtime combo, but feel free to choose whatever toppings you like — the dough will make two 12-inch pizzas, so you can even each make your own (no fighting over spinach-artichoke versus pepperoni!). Keep things casual by ending the evening with an at-home movie night.
2 c all-purpose flour (or more)
1 tsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
3 T olive oil
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast + ¾ c warm water
10 oz fresh baby spinach
10 oz artichoke hearts
1 shallot, sliced
4-6 oz whole-milk ricotta
1 oz shaved parmesan
1 tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
For the dough:
First, prep the yeast: Stir active dry yeast (1 packet or 2 ¼ tsp) in ¾ cup warm water, then let it stand about 5-7 minutes until dissolved.
Mix 2 c flour, sugar, and salt together. Add yeast mixture and olive oil and combine. Knead the dough using your hands or a stand mixer with a dough hook, adding flour by tablespoon if necessary to reach desired consistency (smooth and slightly sticky).
Brush a large mixing bowl with olive oil and transfer dough to the bowl, turning the dough to lightly coat with oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free area. Let dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
When risen, punch down dough. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put pizza stone (cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet will work, too) in the oven while it is preheating. In the meantime, roll out the dough and top it with your favorite ingredients.
Pro tip: To make transferring the pizza more manageable, roll out the dough on a piece of foil lightly coated in olive oil. Leave the foil under the pizza to bake, removing after about 10 minutes to allow the bottom to get crispy.
To prepare the toppings:
Drain and chop artichoke hearts. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Sautee the shallots until translucent, stirring to keep from sticking. Turn heat down to low and add ¼ c water. Toss in the spinach with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until just wilted, drain, then set aside.
Spread the ricotta generously on the dough. Top with spinach, shallots, and artichokes. Sprinkle with parmesan.
Remove hot pizza stone from the oven. Slide pizza onto the stone and bake until dough is golden-brown and cooked through — some dark spots on the bottom are OK! Check after about 15-20 minutes and add time if needed. Remove from the oven and let cook for about 3-5 minutes.
Serve with: A big Caesar salad. Pair with a nice Syrah or casual lager.
Finish with: For dessert? Get some of your favorite movie-theater candy to snack on while you snuggle on the sofa.
Boost the Romance with Painting with a Twist
Seasonal ingredients and a deliciously healthy dinner are a great way to elevate your next at-home date night. And after dinner, take things to the next level by joining your local Painting with a Twist studio in a virtual Twist at Home paint and sip event for the ultimate finish to a romantic evening at home OR move your at-home date night to the studio for a memorable date night event!